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The Timber Trail Cycle Trail in 1 or 2 Days

The Timber Trail located in the Central North Island is one of New Zealand’s finest 1-2 day cycle trails. Situated in Pureora Forest Park, nestled between Lake Taupo and Te Kuiti, the Timber Trail offers up plenty of riding options for beginners to seasoned mountain bikers. The 83 km trail end-to-end is normally ridden  over two days with accommodation in the center of the trail. However, some seasoned mountain bikers opt to compress it into one epic day of riding. I’ve personally done both, but the former is much more comfortable.This stunning ride boasts some of the highest and longest suspension bridges in New Zealand, weaving through the massive podocarp forest and along part of the historic Ongarue Tramway. This grade 2 cycle trail allows access for riders of all abilities, from beginner mountain biker to hardened cross-country rider, this trail is bound to impress.

Timber Trail Over 2 Days

The trail is arguably best enjoyed over 2 days, allowing enough time to take in the scenery and history of the area. In the middle of the trail there are various forms of accommodation, from basic camping facilities to the all inclusive, and brand spanking new Timber Trail Lodge.

To tackle the trail you need to arrange bike shuttle transport from one end of the track. The most common direction to ride is from Pureora Village in the north, ending at Ongarue in the south. The best way to approach this is to park your car at the Ongarue carpark at end of the trail and arrange a shuttle drop off at the start of the trail. We arranged our shuttle with Epic Cycle Adventures, the driver Paul was super friendly and even dropped our bags off at the lodge for us which saved us having to ride with a bunch gear on our backs. His local knowledge was top-notch. Paul said not to worry about the fog as the sun will be out shortly. He was bang on and we were treated to blue bird weather.

You can find more information and book a bike shuttle with Epic Cycle Adventures here.

Epic Cycle Adventures Bike Shuttle


Timber Trail Day 1

Timber Trail Day 1 Map

Timber Trail Day 1 Ascent & Altitude

View Timber Trail Day 1 on Strava

Day one on the trail starts off with a big climb, roughly 13 km of gradual ascent. The incline is constant but not steep  and while it may sound like a horrible way to start, it’s actually not too bad if you can survive a spin class or have good base level of fitness. The start weaves through stunning sections of native forest with clearings that allow great views of Mt Pureora. However, the trail itself does not go via the summit so if you want those postcard summit views, you’ll need to ditch the bike and hike the Mt Pureora summit track (about 40 min each way). From the summit you’ll be treated to stunning views over Lake Taupo, Pureora Forest and out towards the North Islands largest volcanoes – Mt Ruapehu, Mt Ngauruhoe, Mt Tongariro and even Mt Taranaki on a clear day.

Timber Trail Mt Pureora

Mt Pureora Summit - Timber Trail

After the summit, there is around 20 km of downhill to the midpoint of the track. Long switchback sections of track descend through the ancient forest for kilometre after kilometre, with only some short uphills to break up the descent. On this section of trail you’ll also cross the first two major swing bridges, some of the longest and highest suspension bridges in NZ – the longest measuring 141m!

Timber Trail Forest Track

Timber Trail Suspension Bridge 1


Timber Trail Lodge Accommodation

On our two day adventure we opted to stay at the brand new Timber Trail Lodge, a purpose built, all inclusive lodge in the center of the trail. The lodge currently accommodates up to 20 guests per night, but is looking to expand further in late 2017. This lodge is the perfect option for those wanting a comfortable spot to relax after a long day in the saddle. The lodge is a luxury spot to unwind, with all the comforts of a hotel yet retaining the ambiance of a traditional back country hut. It features hot showers, large comfortable beds, a spacious communal lounge area and also hosts a fully stocked bar with wine and beer for purchase. There’s nothing like a cold beer on the deck watching a sunset after a hard day mountain biking!

On top of the glorious views, all your meals are included in the stay. When we arrived mid-afternoon we stoked to be treated with homemade pizza.  Come dinner time, we tucked into pulled pork burgers with all the trimmings (including beers…), and spun yarns with our fellow guests. Just when we thought it couldn’t get any better, dessert was placed in front of us!  We woke the next day a bit stiff, but a strong shot of fresh espresso coffee eased out aching joints and accompanied our breakfast of Spanish eggs, granola ,and berries. This is definitely a step up from the camping!

For more information about the Timber Trail Lodge or to make a reservation  click here.

TImber Trail Lodge Biking

TImber Trail Lodge Deck

TImber Trail Lodge Lounge 2

Timber Trail Lodge Dining Room

TImber Trail Lodge Fireplace

TImber Trail Lodge Lounge

TImber Trail Lodge Breakfast 2

For more information about the Timber Trail Lodge or to make a reservation click here.


Timber Trail Day 2

Timber Trail Day 2 Map

Timber Trail Day 2 Ascent Altitude

View Timber Trail Day 2 on Strava

The second day of the trail is certainly easier than the first. Having a packed lunch certainly takes the edge off! With less climbing and longer uninterrupted descents, the day two section of trail makes for an enjoyable ride out to the car park. The day starts with a relatively steep climb through stunning Podocarp-Hardwood Forest and across another massive suspension bridge. After this, the trail joins the historic Ongarue Tramway which was once used to transport logs from the area to native-timber sawmills and beyond. It’s a spectacular section of trail, cut out from the hillside, which descends through the Ongarue Spiral.

Timber Trail Suspension Bridge 3

Timber Trail Tunnel

Timber Trail Suspension Bridge 2

Timber Trail Forest 2

Timber Trail Forest 3


Timber Trail Day 1 (including summit hike):
Distance – 41.9km
Time – 5-6 hours
Ascent – 986m

Timber Trail Day 2:
Distance – 44.4km
Time – 4-5 hours
Ascent – 540m

Timber Trail in 1 Day

Timber Trail Full Trail Map

Timber Trail Trail Full Altitude Ascent

View Timber Trail in 1 Day on Strava

Attempting the full trail in a single day is only recommended for those with an above average level of fitness, good experience on the bike, and a bag load of snacks. It’s a very long day in the saddle at 83 km in length, and includes over 1,200 m of vertical ascent. However if you are an experienced mountain biker or a keen cross country rider, taking on the Timber Trail in a day is a must! The scenery is unreal and the satisfaction of completing the iconic NZ cycle trail in one hit is right up there.
If you have a good level of fitness and are competent on a bike, then you should be able to complete the full trail in 6-7 hours. If you are a competitive MTB rider then you can probably blast it out in about five hours but that depends on whether you want to stop to take in the scenery… The trail is also prone to a little mud in the winter, so if you happen to catch it after a heavy rain fall you may add a bit of time to the trip. Either way, completing the Timber Trail in one day is possible, but I wouldn’t recommend it for beginners!

Timber Trail in 1 Day:
Distance – 82.4km
Time – 6-8 hours
Ascent – 1,200m

From more information about planning your trip, trail information and accommodation options, please check out the official Timber Trail website here

Check Durand out on Instagram @durand.nz

Durand Coldicott

Durand Coldicott

Web Store Manager - Torpedo7 - @durand.nz on Instagram


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