1. Timber trail (Central North Island)
Get ready for an exciting biking adventure along New Zealand's Timber Trail. This trail has an intriguing history, originally built from old logging tracks and tramways used to transport timber.
Nestled in the heart of pristine wilderness, the Timber Trail offers a genuine and rugged experience. You'll be surrounded by towering native podocarp trees, a mix of mature giants and regenerating forests, creating a stunning backdrop throughout your ride.
The trail is punctuated by a series of sturdy bridges that cross streams and rivers. Among them, 8 suspension bridges are sure to get your heart racing, especially the longest one, which stretches an impressive 141 meters!
One of the trail's highlights is the Ongarue Spiral. Once a crucial route for timber trams, it now adds a touch of history and intrigue to your journey. This circular track takes you through bridges, a cutting, and a curved tunnel, offering a glimpse into the past.
While the trail does have a mostly wide and smooth surface, don't underestimate its challenges. You'll encounter some demanding climbs and tricky descents, so it's best suited for reasonably fit cyclists with mountain biking experience. But fear not, it's not about perfection; it's about embracing the adventure.
At the halfway point, you can recharge at the Timber Trail Lodge. Enjoy hot showers, delicious catering, and relax in your comfy private bedroom. Plus, take advantage of their services like transportation, luggage transfers, and bike hire to make your journey a breeze.
2. Clutha Gold Trail (Otago)
The Clutha Gold Trail is open year-round, offering a well-formed, smooth, and wide trail suitable for those with moderate fitness levels. Whether you choose to walk or ride, this trail is packed with diversity, featuring undulating, flat, and meandering sections that guarantee a journey of discovery at every turn.
This trail provides a genuine rural heartland experience, intertwined with the rich history of gold mining. You'll feel the presence of past adventurers, including the Maori, pioneering run holders, miners, and the Chinese, who have all left their mark along this path.
Get ready to be immersed in a varied landscape, ranging from rugged semi-arid dry lands to lush green contoured farmlands. The Clutha Mata Au River, with its striking turquoise color, accompanies you for almost two-thirds of the journey, enhancing the trail's allure.
Amidst the captivating scenery, you'll encounter genuinely friendly communities who will warmly greet you along the way.
The Clutha Gold Trail offers a unique heritage experience, set against stunning and diverse landscapes. Moreover, its proximity to the Otago Central Rail Trail and Roxburgh Gorge Trail allows you to experience even more of Central Otago's exceptional scenery and hospitality.
3. Lake Dunstan Trail
Cyclists and walkers experiencing the Lake Dunstan Trail will marvel at the man-made landscapes, the rich Maori and early pioneer history, and amble through the vineyards of Bannockburn.
The Lake Dunstan Trail is the perfect link between the charming townships of Clyde and Cromwell. With a challenging 55km route (Grade 2-3), cyclists and walkers will be treated to an unforgettable journey through the distinctive and captivating landscapes that define Central Otago. Following the picturesque shores of Lake Dunstan, the meandering Kawarau River, and the mighty Clutha River Mata-au, this trail offers a thrilling adventure for all.
It's important to note that parts of the trail venture into remote and rugged terrain, featuring some challenging grade 3 sections suitable for experienced and confident cyclists. To help you prepare and select the most suitable sections for your ability, we've provided useful information on our website.
Along the way, the trail thoughtfully integrates the region's captivating stories, from modern times to pioneering days and ancient Maori tales. The Clyde and Cromwell Historical Precincts come alive with history, enriching your journey.
Extending and complementing the renowned Great Rides in Central Otago and the Southern Lakes, the Lake Dunstan Trail also serves as a vital connection to other prominent cycling trails, such as the Otago Central Rail Trail and the Roxburgh Gorge Trail. Together, these trails form the prestigious Nga Haerenga - New Zealand Cycle Trails network, providing cyclists with a wealth of exceptional adventures.
Embrace the spirit of exploration and embark on a remarkable biking or walking adventure along the Lake Dunstan Trail. With its breathtaking landscapes and intriguing history, it promises an authentic and unforgettable experience in the heart of Central Otago.