“There are times when we become breathless and other moments that take our breath away”.

The Northland Twin Coast Cycle Trail will do both. Looking for something to do instead of being cooped up? The Northland cycle trail is both relaxing and highly rewarding, with opportunities to visit various cultural sites and attractions while enjoying the sub-tropical climate for which the ‘winterless’ north is famous.

Experience Pou Herenga Tai, the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, before the word gets out. The 87km cycle trail spans the Northland map in a zig-zag that connects Ōpua in the Bay of Islands on the east coast to Hōreke on the Hokianga Harbour in the west. The route is full of surprises and you feel you’ve really been on a real adventure – from one side of the far north to the other.

Riding the Rail Trail

The Twin Coast Cycle Trail travels from the Bay of Islands to the picturesque Hokianga Harbour, or vice versa.  Following the old Northland railway, you ride across retired rail bridges and through tunnels, cross suspension bridges, on boardwalks through wetlands, past waterfalls, into native forest and over rolling farmland. The 87km long trail can be ridden in either direction. Being generally flat with only gentle climbs, the Northland cycle trail is suitable for most riders.

This trail goes through diverse and stunning scenery with spectacular views, but it also takes you on a fascinating journey through some of New Zealand’s earliest Maori and European settlements.

You’ll be very pleasantly surprised by the quiet, the history and the beauty.

The team at Bucket List Travel can get you there and organise your personal itinerary, including shuttles, transfers, meals, accommodation and bikes. Just ask us. Call Michelle on 09 426 1490.

Twin Coast trail is still blissfully uncrowded and, for New Zealanders looking for a biking adventure, conveniently close to home.

Why cycle the trail with us?

Whether you want to approach the rail trail as a one-day trip, or as a two-day luxury weekend break, or a 3-4-day journey of discovery, we can make your Northland rail trail experience happen.

Cycle trail distance

The trail is 87 km and is divided into four sections. The central point is Kaikoke and from there the trail descends each way to the east and west coasts. If you go from east to west, Opua to Horeke, the grade is very gentle. From west to east, there is one steep climb and the rest is gently down or flat. The local word on the street is that if you are going to ride the trail in one day, start in Horeke on the west coast, because you will usually have the wind at your back, but you will have to take on a mighty hill.

Riding east to west?

Most people ride the trail from east to west, starting at Opua in the Bay of Islands. From Opua to Kawakawa, you ride alongside the Kawakawa River wetlands and upper Bay of Islands Harbour. It is a perspective that you won’t get by any other means. And it’s only 11km and dead flat. You then ride around the back of Moerewa to Kaikohe, the mid-point, where you can end the first day’s riding. You can either stay in in Kaikohe or Okaihau, where the Waiariki Hot Pools at nearby Ngawha Springs will soothe weary legs and numb butts, or shuttle to your accommodation and then return to Kaikohe the next morning to start the second day’s riding.

Or cycle from the middle?

Conversely, there are those who declare beginning each morning’s ride in Kaikohe and cycling one day to the east coast and the next day from Kaikohe going to the west coast is the way to go. It is claimed riding the trail this way offers the best views at each end of the track and from the right direction, and more importantly, you’ll be riding mainly on the flat or downhill.

We’ll work with you to plan an itinerary that suits your personal level of fitness and allows time to enjoy the towns and sights along the way and organise a bike shuttle company to ferry you to a start point and back from your chosen destination.

Cycle trail highlights

It’s generally agreed that the second day’s ride has the highlights, such as a gentle climb along an old railway corridor to reach a viewpoint 280m above sea level, a spooky, curved 80m tunnel and Lake Omapere, Northland’s largest lake and one steeped in Māori mythology. The last section is mostly downhill, as you head towards the Hokianga Harbour. Cruising along through farmland riders are greeted by a fabulous view down the Utakura River valley where the trail follows a series of switchbacks. This is followed by the 1200m-long boardwalk section that snakes through the mangrove estuary connecting to the Hokianga Harbour.

While many finish their ride at the Horeke Tavern – with the waters of the Hokianga lapping at its feet, the Horeke pub may have the county’s prettiest beer garden – the official trail head is three kilometres further on, at the Mangungu Mission House.

Tripping on

In an ideal world, the Twin Coasts Trail would continue down the Hokianga Harbour to Rawene and Kohukohu. That leg is not completed, but we can arrange for cyclists to be ferried aboard the beautiful the Ranui between Horeke, Kohukohu, and Rawene. We assure you this boat trip will become a memorable part of your time on the cycle trail.

You could choose to stay in KohuKohu and take time to explore the area or continue cycling New Zealand’s cycleways through the far north.

The cycle trail’s 4 sections

  • Opua to Kawakawa – 11km, grade 1- 1–1.5 hours
  • Kawakawa to Kaikohe – 34km, Grade – 1 – 2 – 2–3 hours
  • Kaikohe to Okaihau – 14km, Grade – 1 – 2 – 1–2 hours
  • Okaihau to Horeke – 28km, Grade – 2 – 3 – 3 hrs

Weather and cycling season

Northland’s sub-tropical climate makes for great cycling any time of the year, although, as the trail runs from one coast to the other, the weather can vary wildly in the same day.

Riding the trail

Featuring on- and off-road riding, this trail is generally flat and wide with a smooth surface and gentle climbs, making it suitable for riders of most abilities.

Accommodation

  • Okaihau Rail Stay. Noelene and Pete Inverarity have turned abandoned rail carriages into striking boutique accommodation.
  • Out to enjoy a bit of luxury? Paheke Lodge in Ohaiwai was built in 1862 and is full of charm and character.
  • Accommodation is also available at the Horeke Tavernin one of the pub’s over-water houses. Simply park yourself on the deck and watch the birdlife in the estuary. The enjoy a good night’s sleep, listening to the tide suck in and out beneath our floorboards.
  • We can of course organise accommodation at any of the fantactic places to stay in Paihia or Russell.

Everything sorted

We can organise cycle hire, cycling tours, transfers, ferry rides, boat charters, customised itineraries, accommodation and activities. We’ll partner with the most experienced cycle tour and hire companies in the Bay of Islands to ensure you have a memorable trip!