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FIT TO LIVE: A 200km+ 2-day adventure from Taupo

In the spirit of the NINER tagline #golonggetlost we decided to pack the bikes and go on a series of riding adventures over the summer months. Doing stuff like this makes you truly appreciate what a stunning place to ride NZ is and how easy it is to access some pretty insane trails.

Our first mission was to ride a two day loop from Taupo taking in The Timber Trail and all it has to offer. If you are looking for a full on ride, don’t mind the odd bit of road and don’t want to mess around with shuttle buses then check this out.  We departed Taupo and headed out on Poihipi road, this road is a bit busy so we opted to turn off towards Kinloch onto Whangamata road which is seriously hilly but has far less traffic. Once we hit SH32 we turned right and then first left onto Kakaho Road. This scenic gravel road takes you all the way through the Pureora forest to the start of the Timber trail and is a real treat. The Timber Trail itself has to be one of the most spectacular trails in the North Island and no matter how many times we do it, it never fails to impress.

The trails winds through incredible ancient forests. The trees are huge and you feel so small and insignificant in this part of the world. The bird life is amazing, you can hear Kaka screeching, the bellbirds singing and swooping sounds of the Kereru as they fly overhead. What an amazing feeling to leave the front door of the house and a few hours later be riding through the depths of the Pureora Forest.

After a couple of hours of heavenly single track riding, and crossing some gigantic suspension bridges, we opted to set up camp at one of the conveniently placed shelters at Harrison’s creek. We pitched our tent, headed to the river for a wash, cooked up a delicious Radix nutrition freeze dried meal and settled in for a peaceful night’s sleep with the only sounds being the river and the birds – bliss. The next morning after lubing our chains we were back on the trail reasonably early and were treated to more glorious riding. This half of the trail saw us meandering through more ancient forest following old tram lines and riding past old settlement sites. The information boards were incredibly informative giving us a real appreciation for how hard life must have been back then… We gave thanks to those that had built platforms and sat on the ground in front of the trees in protest of logging in order to save these awesome podocarp forests back in the 1970’s. All too soon we were flying down the Ongarue Spiral to the trail end. Once we hit the end of the trail we took a left turn on to Ngakonui – Ongarue road and spent the next few hours on a gravel road meandering through some stunning farmland with very little traffic. It was tough riding but well worth it. This happened to be part of the Te Araroa walkway and a lovely 11 year old boy has set up a shelter with food and water for weary trail walkers. We sheepishly stopped to read his visitors book and grab some water fully aware that we weren’t his target audience but sure that he wouldn’t mind if he know where we had ridden from. While we were sitting there reading his visitors book which was full of stories of gratitude from trail walkers from all over the world who should ride past us but none other than Rachel Cashin the only person we know in the region !!  What a small world. Reluctantly we dragged our weary bodies off the picnic bench and headed toward state highway 41 and the infamous climb up to the Waituhi lookout.  What a climb!

It is the highest point on the Taumaranui-Turangi road and from memory it was around 10km of solid climbing.  At this point the weather started to pack in so we put on another layer as well as our jackets to make sure we didn’t freeze going down the other side.  It was an awesome descent but the rain battered our faces and despite our efforts we got pretty cold. On reaching Kuratau and the turn off to Western Bays Road we sat down on the side of the road to re-assess our goals of the day.  We had planned to get to Kawakawa bay on the Great Lake trail but given it was another extremely hill 40km away it was a big ask.  It was a relaxing holiday ride after all!  We set our sights on the Waihaha Bridge and pedalled off into the intermittent downpours and the endless ‘undulations’!  We finally made it to the shelter at the bridge just before dark and set up camp.  It had been an awesome but long day – we were grateful to have another delicious freeze dried meal and some hot soup. The next morning we cycled the 57kms back home to Taupo and couldn’t believe our luck with a huge tail wind and very few major climbs. What an awesome loop! If you have a few days and are looking for a bike packing adventure loop, then this is perfect.  It is a good 200km+ loop which could be shortened if you parked and started at Kinloch.  There are many places to camp along the way, or you could treat yourself to a night at the Timber Trail Lodge at Piropiro. If you are training for the Tour Aotearoa, Godzone or just love bike packing then this is a must do!

Debbie is an Event Manager for Total Sport and Emma is a self-employed Physiotherapist.  Based in Taupo, they are the passion behind Fit to Live. Fit to Live aims to provide support for people so they can live the life they want. One of their key aims is to inspire, motivate and upskill others so they have the confidence to get out and do more. Fit to Live offers:

  • Personalised Professional Physiotherapy services in Taupo, specialising in Musculoskeletal and Pelvic Health.
  • Events that focus on getting people outdoors and active, including group walks and runs, training weekends and skills sessions.

Follow Fit to Live on Facebook and their adventures both on and off their Niners.