Swing bridge amongst NZ native forest

The Timber Trail, Central North Island

The Timber Trail is a spectacular cycle trail in New Zealand’s central North Island. It takes riders through ancient forests, suspension bridges, and across old logging tracks. This 85-kilometer trail follows an old logging railway line and is suitable for all levels of fitness and ability. Along the way take in stunning views of the surrounding mountains and valleys. The Timber Trail is a must-do for anyone seeking adventure in New Zealand.

What makes this ride unique compared to other bike tracks in New Zealand is the stunning moss-covered forests, the eight swing bridges to cross the rugged and scenic terrain, and the old mining tunnel at the end that you can drive through.

Article Contents

The Timber Trail Bike Ride

Location: Map

Distance:  85km (one way) – for your average rider this is completed over 2 days.

Time: Approximately 6 hours per day

Difficulty: Beginner to intermediate (Grade 2 – 3)

Cost: Free to use the trail, additional cost for shuttles and accommodation (if using)

This trip had been on my bucket list for a while and it more than lived up to expectations. I went into this only knowing that it was an 85km bike ride, with some beautiful scenery, and cool swing bridges. I came away in awe of just how truly spectacular some of the scenery was.

The Timber Trail is an 85-kilometer cycle trail in New Zealand’s central North Island. The average time to bike the entire trail is two days, with riders typically completing around 40 kilometers per day. This trail is suitable for riders of all levels of fitness and ability, with some technical sections and short climbs that add to the challenge. It has 35 bridges in total, eight of which are suspension bridges with three more than 100m long. The track has markers every 1km. 

Day 1

Most people ride the track in a southwesterly direction from Pureora to Ongarue, this means you start at a higher elevation, do most of the hard work climbing on the first day, and then it’s mostly downhill from there. Going the opposite way would involve more vertical climbing overall. 

The track starts relatively flat and then after the first few kilometers quickly gets very steep. If you’re on an e-bike this is no sweat, for those of us who only have leg power, it is a little bit of a grind but very rewarding once you reach the summit of Mt Pureora approximately 12km in. This is a good spot to stop for a morning snack. Tip: At this point, you can choose to take a break, get off your bike, and go for a walk to the summit, it’s approximately 30 minutes return. This lookout offers stunning views across Lake Taupō, the Mamaku Ranges, Mt Taranaki, and Mt Ruapehu.

Shortly after the summit, you’ll be treated to a magical forest covered in moss. It truly feels like something out of the movies. This is then followed by a lot of downhills and swing bridges. Stop at the 21km mark for lunch on the first day at the Bog Inn Creek swing bridge. There is a picnic table at the far side which makes it the perfect spot for lunch. 

If you’re doing this bike ride over two days, the rest of the first day is mostly downhill, and you’ll be treated to many more swing bridges to cross throughout the day.

Tip: If you’re doing this ride between January – March lookout for the many blackberry bushes laden with berries, they are safe to eat and make a great refreshing treat, just watch out for the prickles!

Day 2

Your second day will likely begin relatively early, but the good news is there are only 2 medium sized climbs, but nothing like the first day. The highlight of day two for us was most definitely the long miners’ tunnel that you ride through (or may have to walk your bike through as it is so dark). It’s made of cobbles and is about 100m long. If you’ve booked your trip with a shuttle and were dropped off at the start point, then you will ride all the way back to your car on the second day and your shuttle will be there to meet you and hand your overnight bags back. 

Accommodation & Shuttles

Epic Cycle Adventures

At the end of the first day, we stayed at Camp Epic. They are located at Piropiro, the halfway point of the trail, and offer glamping tents and tent site options. The glamping tents were glorious after a long day’s ride. 

The lodge has a large communal area with a fireplace with marshmallows available for toasting, a kitchen, dining area, outdoor areas for relaxing and socializing as well as bathrooms and showers that overlook the beautiful bush – a stunning experience.

All of their facilities were clean, comfortable, and well-maintained, providing a great base for riders to rest and recharge between days on the trail. 


  • Cooking facilities incl BBQ, gas cooker, and solid fuel burner
  • Dining area
  • Hot Showers – (with stunning bush views!)
  • Flush toilets
  • Fire pit (to toast marshmallows)
  • Bike storage
  • Glamping tents have fully-made permanent beds, lanterns for lighting, and outdoor seats
  • Towels are provided
  • There is a permanent camp manager on site

Cost to stay:

  • From $125pp/night for a campsite
  • From $205pp/night for glamping
  • Both options include shuttle to start of the track and transport of luggage on both days

Where to book: Epic Cycle Adventures

Alternate Accommodation Providers

  • Blackfern Lodge provides a variety of accommodation options from Twin single or Double en-suite rooms to entire cottages. They also offer shuttle options and bike hire. Prices start from $245pp
  • The Timber Trail Lodge is a high-end option. The Lodge has a range of accommodation options, from shared bunkrooms to private ensuite rooms, as well as a restaurant and bar on site. They also offer shuttle options and bike hire. Prices start from $430pp


Most accommodation providers offer a range of shuttle options for riders looking to tackle the Timber Trail. They provide shuttle services from where you park your car to the start of the trail and also transport your overnight gear to and from your accommodation, so you can ride light and fully enjoy the experience.

What to know about The Timber Trail

  • Bookings for the shuttles and accommodation are essential as they are usually booked out, for several months in advance.
  • Phone reception is very patchy so be organised and know where you are heading incase your phone’s GPS stops working.
  • The closest shops are in the town of Taumarunui (approximately 25km away), so bring everything you need with you for your stay. 
  • Be prepared for changing weather conditionssuch as rain and cold temperatures.
  • Be aware of the trail conditions, including any technical sections or steep climbs, and ride within your abilities.
  • Best time of year to visit: Summer is the best time of year to visit, but it is also the busiest time of year. Spring and Autumn are great times of year to visit as the tracks will be quieter, just be prepared for possible spots of rain.

What to Bring – Day Trip:

  • Helmet & Bike
  • Comfortable riding clothes
  • Sturdy shoes
  • Water bottle/ bladder
  • Enough food for your trip – energy gels or lollies are a great addition to your food supplies to keep you going!  
  • Warm clothing and rain jacket
  • Sunscreen and insect repellent
  • Sunglasses
  • Basic first aid kit and a bike repair kit in case of any issues along the way. 
  • Phone/camera/Go-pro

What to Bring – Overnight:

  • Change of clothes for the next day
  • Toiletries
  • Dinner/Breakfast (if staying in accommodation that does not provide meals)
  • Head torch
  • Charger/battery pack – there are limited power points for charging devices at Camp Epic

Other Activities in the Area:

Whitewater rafting

Try white whitewater rafting. The Tongariro River, located just an hour’s drive from the Timber Trail, offers some of the best rafting experiences in the country. This river has rapids ranging from grade 1 to 4, making it perfect for beginners, as well as experienced rafters. The stunning scenery and challenging rapids make for an unforgettable adventure.

Waitomo Caves

The Waitomo Caves, located about an hour’s drive from the Timber Trail, is a must-do activity in the area, known for their glowworms and limestone formations. These caves offer a range of activities, from easy walking tours to adrenaline-pumping caving adventures. You can abseil down underground waterfalls, crawl through narrow passages, and even do some underground tubing. The Waitomo Caves are an absolute must-visit for adventure seekers.

Tongariro Crossing

If you’re up for a challenging hike, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a must-do activity. Located just over an hour’s drive from the Timber Trail, the Tongariro Alpine Crossing is a 19.4 km trek through some of the most stunning volcanic landscapes in New Zealand. The hike takes around 7-8 hours to complete, and you’ll need to be physically fit and prepared for changing weather conditions. But the views from the top of the trail, including the Emerald Lakes and the Red Crater, are breathtaking.

Sky Diving

For those who love a good adrenaline rush, skydiving is an option to consider. Taupo, located about an hour and a half from the Timber Trail, offers some of the best skydiving experiences in the country. You’ll be able to jump from a height of 12,000 or 15,000 feet and freefall at speeds of up to 200 km/h. The views from the sky are truly unforgettable, with Lake Taupo and the surrounding volcanic landscape visible from above. Skydiving is an adventure that you’ll never forget.

Are you planning a trip throughout the North Island, New Zealand?

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