I’ve been a big fan of the Timber Trail since I rode it with friends in April last year, the weekend before it was officially opened.

Timber trail viaduct April 2013

I still believe it’s most inspiring trail in the North Island, so it’s good to see it mentioned in today’s NZ Herald Weekend ‘Destination’ item by Elisabeth Easther. Elisabeth reports that the Timber Trail is a wonderful experience in May, and worth doing more than once. I certainly plan to get back soon.

Timber Trail interpretation sign  The Trail has the best interpretation panels I have met on any Trail. I dearly wish other like my beloved Alps to Ocean could find money to invest in these, as it has  fabulous stories and places that need highlighting, some of which are only  500m off the main Trail route. These enrich the Trail experience hugely – I know they’re expensive, and may be regarded as a ‘nice to have’ item, compared with laying down tracks. Maybe we need the Government to make another allocation of funds specifically for these, to ensure they are installed as soon as possible so visitors get the full story of the landscapes and heritage embedded in country we are riding through.

The Trail crosses elevated land which can be cold and windy in winter. It sounds like it’s worth getting in fast to book accomodation for Queens Birthday weekend in the hope this calm warm autumn weather lets us keep cycling trails out of Auckland for a few more weeks yet.

The Waitomo District Council recently sent me a box of the new superb maps produced for the Trail. I’ve delivered some to bike shops, but would love to have help to spread them around Auckland more widely.

I also have a big stack of really useful pamphlets produced collaboratively by local accomodation and shuttle facilities to make the Trail easy to do from Auckland. We left town on Friday night, stayed at Art Doc in Benneydale, which we loved, called in to visit Pa Harakeke for coffee and to see their superb new showroom for flax (harakeke) products and look over their 2 accomodation units. The pamphlet highlights the big expansion of farm stays, bed and breakfasts, units and houses that are now available.

Whoopee!! – this shows the success of the Trails in stimulating job creation and investment in backroads NZ. When we finished the Trail at Ongarue last April we were impressed by how the little timber industry town was sitting pretty for new accomodation and hospitality places because it has sleepy old villas, a closed up store, and evidence of other community facilities. I dropped in a month ago on my return to Auckland, (after staying at Blue Duck Lodge to ride part of the Mountains to the Sea Trail) and was thrilled to see a villa has been upgraded already to an attractive cafe and backpackers.

My message is – get there to ride this gorgeous Trail. Use the shuttles and local accomodation/ hospitality. I promise you’ll enjoy it. Remember we all benefit when the NZ Cycle Trails are shown to be delivering an economic boost to backroads NZ. People who live there have fascinating stories to tell, love to welcome and make visitors feel at home and to promote the rural areas of NZ that are so important to our national character and identity.

Please yell out if you can help distribute the wonderful new Trail map to cafes and bike shops around Auckland . I’ll give you some of the accomodation pamphlet as well. ( Contact me at  cuthash@worldnet.co.nz)

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General News New Zealand Cycle Trail Off-road paths
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5 responses to “Queen’s Birthday weekend – ride the Timber Trail !

  1. We rode the Timber Trail a couple of weeks ago and agree it’s a wonderful experience.The Pureora forest and birdlife are magical and the trail was easily rideable even after wet weather. We agree with Barb the experience is greatly enriched by the historical and environmental information on the panels along the trail – we loved stopping to soak up this context. We stayed in the accommodation at Pa Harakeke and used their friendly shuttle service – both couldn’t have been better. A great NZ Cycle Trail ride – one of the best & highly recommended!

  2. Sounds great! I was wondering abut doing this with a child and some gear in a trailer — would the surface of the trail allow that or is it too rutted/narrow/bumpy?

  3. I think it would be ok, David, as long as you allowed a bit on time. There are a few tight bends but generally the path design – width, gradient and surface are very good. I know it is vulnerable to wash-outs as the area has a heavy rainfall, but I’m hearing the maintenance team is onto it.

    Kirsten, you’ve ridden it more recently than I have – what’s your assessment for David?

    1. Hi David, the trail is well formed and mostly in good shape – but you’ll need to be prepared for some sustained climbing, with a few steep sections on the Pureora to Piropiro section – and probably long days out with a child if you’re planning to do the full ride. I suggest getting in touch with the Timber Trail team for their advice before you hit the trail (http://www.thetimbertrail.com). They have suggestions for family-friendly options on the website (http://www.thetimbertrail.com/our-rides/family-rides/) . Great to hear you’re taking your child out and there are plenty of good choices to make it a great experience for you both – have fun!

      1. Thanks, that sounds doable. A slow pace is no problem so long as I can get through. I’ll get in touch with the locals down there and get some further advice…though with the weather today, the outdoors don;t look so enticing!

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