The Timber Trail is one of the 22 New Zealand Cycle Way, Nga Haerenga, Great Rides. The ride is mainly a mixture of single track and historic bush tramway and winds through spectacular virgin podocarp and regenerating New Zealand bush that is home to some of New Zealand's rarest birds, including the Kokako. It is historically very interesting as there were many sawmills along the route that is mostly on the old bush tramway. Imagine the pioneers working these mills with no electric power and the most basic accomodation amenities.
The trail is very well graded and although the first half is an intermediate or grade 3 ride, due to the long climb, 14km and nearly 500 vertical metres over the shoulder of Mt Pureora, it is certainly suitable for fit beginners as it is not technical. The second stage from Piro Piro to Ongarue is grade 2 and suitable for fit family groups who can ride 40 km on a well graded trail.
The 84km ride is completed over two days by most riders, commencing at Pureora and riding west to Ongarue. By doing the ride in this direction it is predominantly down hill. The halfway stop is at Piro Piro Flats, where there is a camping ground. You can either camp here for the night or get a shuttle to one of the local accommodation providers. The trail is well signposted with distance marker posts at 1km intervals.
A feature of the ride is the four spectacular wooden suspension bridges, the longest of which, the Maramataha Bridge, is 141m and 53m high, These are the most impressive of any New Zealand cycle or hiking trail. Near the end of the second part of the trail the ride negotiates the Ongarue Spiral, an amazing engineering feat. Hand hewn from the pumice and ignimbrite rock, the tramway travels in a loop, through a tunnel and crosses itself to achieve a climbing gradient that the old steam locomotives could manage.
Remember to check weather as the high point of the trail, at 980m, can be cold and exposed. Due to the remoteness of the trail and limited cell phone coverage we also recommend carrying a personal locator beacon, which can be hired from Adventure Shuttles.
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