Experience: Riding the Twin Coast Cycle Trail

Apr 27, 2021
Experience: Riding the Twin Coast Cycle Trail


Biking into the sunset

Pou Herenga Tai or the Twin Coast Cycle Trail is Aotearoa’s northern-most ‘Great Ride’. Stretching 87 kilometres, it connects Opua in the Bay of Islands to Horeke at the head of the Hokianga Harbour. The trail passes stunning scenery and views, historic rail tunnels and bridges, stands of totara, the longest coastal boardwalk on any NZ Cycle Trail, fascinating story boards and some of Aotearoa’s earliest Māori and Pakeha settlements. 

As leaves turn golden and the weather starts to cool, it’s time for us to fondly remember our warm summer rides (and start to plot our adventures for next summer!). Bike Auckland’s treasurer, Greer Rassumen, rode the Twin Coast Cycle Trail with her friends in January, who met through Cycling without Age Pt Chev. We hope you enjoy this photographic essay! It’s not too late to enjoy some of Northland’s warmer weather by planning a ride these school holidays.

Note: Most people bike the trail from east to west (Opua to Horeke). This means you get to ride down the fantastic long switchbacks and enjoy the fabulous downhill run through the pine forest after it, before meeting the head of the Hokianga Harbour. Your choice – it’s all great!

Riding in the golden sunset

Two people riding along with their packs

Looking at cows

Scenic views of hills and grass

Sitting down to eat lunch

Cows alongside the cycle track

A church sitting alongside the track

Mulga Bill’s stopover

For the night we stayed at the Mulga Bill’s stopover near Kaikohe, at the halfway point of the trail. It’s a very cute farm cottage that sleeps up to five people, with a chatty host, swimming pool and breakfast included.

Beautiful trees

Feeding horses

Greer riding along the track

View of an old house sitting near to the track

Feeding horses

Fruit and horses

At different points of the trail we found wild blackberries, peaches, apples and passionfruit. We also met some friendly horses – bring some spare carrots and apples to make friends!

Shrubs and foliage

Riding through a green corridor of trees

Lots of ferns and other greens along the track

Riding on a section of track alongside a big swamp

Getting ready to swim under the waterfall!

A gorgeous waterfall


Listen for the sound of water as you ride – there are a number of hidden swimming holes and waterfalls near the track for cooling your feet!

If you’re biking in summer, it’s also worthwhile making a 5 minute diversion for the waterlilies in the pond in the pine forest marked on the trail map.

Abandoned train on the tracks

Stopping to look out over the rail bridge

An old station sitting next to the rail bridge

Rail bridge

We passed beautiful rail bridges outside Ōhaeawai and Kawakawa as well as on over-water boardwalk in Horeke.

Greer and her friend holding the thumbs up!

Basking in the sunset as we ride along the track

Riding along the boardwalk over mangroves

Walking the bikes along a tricky part

Riding up the incline

Sign warning riders of the steep decline

Trail difficulty

Most of the Twin Coast Cycle Trail is rated as grade 1 or 2, although the 28 kilometres between Okaihau and Horeke is grade 2 to 3, mostly because of the switchbacks and pine forest sections. If you’re not used to riding on loose gravel, it pays to take extra care.

We noticed most people chose to ride an e-bike, and suspension is recommended. Padded bike shorts would be handy on the bumpy sections! 

We were grateful for the markers noting the number of kilometres to Opua as a way to track our journey.

Standing next to a wharf looking out on the water



Kaikohe doesn’t have many food options, but there’s a very good Chinese takeaway where we had roast duck and fried rice. Perfect after a long day of cycling! 

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