Five of the best cycling adventures

The Waikato River Trail. Photo / Christine Cornege
The Waikato River Trail. Photo / Christine Cornege

Get close to bush, rivers and hills on these two-wheeler tracks.

1. Te Ara Ahi - Rotorua

Long known for its mean mountain biking scene, Rotorua now boasts a two-day Nga Haerenga trail. With everything from the easy cycling around the city lakes, past Te Puia through new riverside path in the Hemo gorge to the mountainbike park. Grade 2 and 3 riders can then tackle Waimangu and Waikite thermal and volcanic valleys, including the famous Kerosene Creek hot pool, finishing at Lake Ohakuri. Loads of options, great scenery, a must-do.

2. Waikato River Trail - Cambridge to Atiamuri

This trail has easy urban and lakeside cycling, heart-in-mouth swing bridges and gnarly mountain bike trails and everything in between. Follow the river through its dams and lakes from Karapiro to Arapuni, Waipapa, Maraetai, Mangakino, Whakamaru and Atiamuri.

Surprisingly remote in parts, with rare but reliable food stops at Arapuni, Whakamaru and Mangakino. Do short day-trips or allow a leisurely two to three days.

3. Motu Trails - Opotiki

Again, the trail designers have a bit of everything to suit experience (or energy), from the gentle dunes ride around town with dramatic views of the beach, to the tough grade 3 hills of Motu Coach Rd and the heart-in-mouth grade 4 Pakihi track. Begin and end at Opotiki for a taste of old-school beach charm.
See also: opotikinz.com.

4. Great Lake Trail - Taupo

As well as its mountainbike trails, Taupo boasts a 73km trail through native forest along the western shore of Lake Taupo, with views across to Tongariro and the mountains. Local pumice surfaces makes the track all-weather, so hardy types can ride all year round. Take a full two or three days, or dip in and out with shorter rides (start at Kinloch village).

5. Mountain to the Sea - Tongariro National Park to Whanganui

One of the biggies, with four to six days of riding over 317km through remote native bush. Start your ride from the Tongariro (Ohakune or National Park village), and enjoy the old coach road before the hardcore bits start around Horopito to the Mangapurua trig tracks. With the spectacular Bridge to Nowhere, some jetboating or paddling on the river and layers of heritage, this will be a trip you won't forget. Expect snow in winter. Always check the weather at doc.govt.nz or visitruapehu.com.

- NZ Herald

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