Piropiro, right in the middle of North Island, 1h1/2 away from Taupo.
End of April 2017, the weather was magnificent and it was not without apprehension that I was about to start the famous Timber Trail. It is widely regarded as being the best 2-day mountain bike ride in the country and the “Jewel in the crown” of North Island cycleways : 2 days and 1 night, 82 km of rollercoaster hills on the old tramways created in the early 20th century to transport logs from the forest admist the beautiful and varied landscapes of the Pureora Forest Park.
It all started with a nutritious and tasty breakfast, after which a shuttle came and picked up my bike, my backpack and myself to take us to the beginning of the trail: 40 km, the first 14 gradually winding up and around the side of Mt Pureora. To reach its summit, I had to leave my bike behind and walk for about 40 mn. But my picnic with panoramic views was really worth the extra effort: pure happiness and definitely one of the highlights of the trail! It would have been a shame not to do it as from then on there were more downhills than uphills.
Exhilaration was definitely on the menu that day, with long sweeping descents and very impressive suspension bridges along the way. The track being fast and well maintained, you can really enjoy yourself! And the sensation of gliding on your bike between sky and earth each time you cross a bridge doesn’t ever fade.
Back to the lodge, after an invigorating hot shower followed by equally invigorating pre-dinner snacks and drinks, I really enjoyed sharing a well-deserved and delicious diner with the rest of the guests and the lodge staff : definitely another highlight of this experience !
On the next day, new transfer to the start of the trail’s last leg: 42 km to return to the lodge and take a hot shower before heading to new adventures.
This last day was a little less demanding than the first one but took as long (allow around 5h) and brought as many enjoyable surprises : narrow canyons covered in vegetation each time the trail goes through a rock, plenty of suspension bridges including the longest one on a New Zealand cycleway ( Maramataha Bridge, 141 m) , a few waterfalls and the famous Ongarue Spirale…
I won’t tell you more, just come and discover all this by yourself! But be aware that even though you don’t need to be an expert mountain biker to ride the Timber Trail, it is nevertheless necessary to have a minimum level of fitness and the trail is not adapted to young children.
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