The Timber Trail

The Pureora Timber Trail is a journey that will let your spirits soar.

The trail is part of Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail. It is one of 22 Great Rides that make up the network through New Zealand.

The Timber Trail is widely regarded as being the best two-day mountain bike ride in New Zealand, and the ‘jewel in the crown’ of North Island cycleways.

It runs mostly through Department of Conservation (DoC) estate, from Pureora in the north, to Ongarue in the south. The trail mainly follows old logging tramways and tracks. It is a grade 2-3 trail, making it suitable for moderately experienced and capable riders. Its remoteness, stunning scenery, awe inspiring swing-bridges, prolific birdlife and historic logging tramways also create epic appeal for the most hard core mountain bikers.

It is already very popular with people of all ages; families, couples, and groups of friends sharing an adventure.  It has also become a popular walking route, for both one day and multi day walks.

The trail features several specially built pedestrian and cycle swing bridges spanning spectacular gorges, including New Zealand’s longest at 141m. Excellent interpretive signage, provided by DoC, enables users to learn about the natural and human history of the area while they travel along the trail.

Most people ride the trail over two days. The half way point is Piropiro, where Timber Trail Lodge is located.

New Zealand's best two day bike ride.

This beautiful mountain bike trail through Pureora Forest Park follows old logging tracks and tramways in some of the most stunning native forest in the North Island.


Pureora is a special place. It is home to the Rereahu people, whose descendants came to New Zealand on the Tainui waka. Before you start your ride it’s well worth calling into Pa Harakeke near Pureora village, to meet some of the tangata whenua (people of the land), and hear some of their stories and history.

During European times Pureora had a significant logging industry. Dozens of timber mills provided a living to hundreds of people in and around what was then an extensive forest of huge podocarp trees, including kahikatea, rimu, totora and matai.

During your ride you’ll see some of the survivors. Much of the bush remains and is slowly regenerating. Birdlife is prolific thanks to renewed efforts to protect them from invasive predators.

The Timber Trail is well formed, with excellent signage so it’s easy to find your way.

Over the 84 km length, if ridden from north to south, there’s more downhill than uphill. After the climb around the side of Mt Pureora, which comes early on, it’s mostly downhill from there.

The trail consists of two sections. The northern section begins at Pureora Village and starts with the most spectacular area of North Island podocarp forest you’ll see anywhere. It then winds gradually up and around the side of Mt Pureora, with stunted moss covered forest reminiscent of scenes from a Tolkien story.

The highest part of the Pureora Timber Trail is reached at 940m above sea level before dropping down to the first of six spectacular suspension bridges that span the rugged gorges along the route. There’s a couple of short, quite steep downhill sections that are sign-posted, and which some people prefer to walk. The final section before Piropiro and Timber Trail Lodge at the 40km marker, is a nice and easy downhill ride, mainly on old forestry roads.

As well as Timber Trail Lodge, Piropiro has an expansive camping area which has toilets and a water supply. In the middle of last century Piropiro contained three timber mills and was home to several hundred people. There was even a local taxi service. Today there’s little sign of those times.

The southern section of the Timber Trail continues from Piropiro, and is generally easier than the northern section. It starts with a relatively easy climb after a few kilometres, which is followed quickly by the largest of the bridges, over the Maramataha gorge. From the bridge the route climbs a bit and then follows well defined tramways that were created in the early 20th century to transport huge logs from the forest. Along the way there are plenty of remnants of those days. Extensive signage along the trail explains the history and provides great insights into the area.

The final quarter of the trail is lots of fun, with long sweeping descents, an amazing feat of engineering (the Ongarue Spiral) to check out, and more beautiful bush. Before civilisation is reached, at Ongarue, the final section skirts around a farm and takes you to the carpark at the trail end. Some people ride the extra couple of kilometres into Ongarue village.

There’s some great interpretive signage along the way, telling you about the history, the forest and birdlife, conservation, Maori history and local stories.


The trail is regarded as an intermediate, Grade 2-3 ride, meaning it’s suitable for riders of moderate fitness and ability. Although some more experienced riders decide to blitz the whole trail in a day, recreational riders should be prepared for up to several hours riding over two days.

Appropriate clothing, extra food, first aid, and spares for repairing punctures and bike issues should be carried. Plenty of water should be carried in warmer weather.

Adverse weather conditions can make the ride more difficult than it is in fine warm weather. There are no exit routes so once riders have started either of the sections, there is no choice other than to continue to the finish, or return to the start.

Most people ride the Pureora Timber Trail during the warmer months between October and May. Riders should realise that Pureora Forest Park is a wilderness area, at a relatively high altitude, where weather can be changeable, and it can rain at any time of the year.

Weather forecasts should be checked before commencing the trail.

Riding during the off season, through winter, is doable but can be more challenging. Snow on the higher sections of the trail is not unusual and riders should prepare appropriately. The Timber Trail Lodge provides a nice option for riders to enjoy comfort during a winter ride.


Make It Easy For Yourself

Avoid the bother of finding and arranging shuttle transportation, booking enough accommodation, sorting out food and vehicle security.
Let us do it for you, and know you’ll be looked after.

Check out our all-inclusive Timber Trail bike packages.

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