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The Great Rides and Cycle Trails of New Zealand

Motu Trails

New Zealand Cycle Trail

Eastland, North Island

Planning on riding the Motu Trails? Contact us for help in planning your itinerary and booking your trip. 

The Motu Trails offer a huge variety of riding within a stunning and undeveloped corner of New Zealand. Experience everything from coastal riding, to quiet backcountry roads where you're more likely to see horses than vehicles and purpose built smooth and flowly single track through native forest. With three trails to choose from or the option of combining them all there are plenty of riding options to suit all ages and fitness levels.

Dunes Trail :: Easy :: 9.5KM

This lovely and accessible trail follows the spectacular stretch of coast east of Opotiki and forms a 9.5km link to the bottom of Motu Road. The trail offers unspoilt views of the Pacific Ocean and the rugged East Cape. 

Starting from the stopbanks in the Opotiki township, the trail meanders over the Pakowhai bridge and follows the sand dunes with a number of vantage points to take in the view! The trail is relatively flat and caters to all abilities of cyclists.

The return journey can be completed comfortably in a day. Tracks have also been formed along Opotiki’s stopbanks, so you can circumnavigate the town as part of the experience.

Parking is available at both ends with heaps of parking in town – a short hop from the start of the Dunes trail- the Pakowhai Bridge.

Toilets are located at Hikuwai Beach approximately 3km away from the start of the trail.


Minor issue crossing the Tirohanga Bluff section of the Dunes Trail as this is tidal. If this section is not available at high tides, there is the possibility of following the Wairakaia Road Beach access to the State highway and re-enter the Dunes Trail via Tirohanga Beach Road west of the Tirohanga campsite. Signs have been put up, to ensure that cyclists, go to the correct entry/exit point.

Motu Road Trail :: Intermediate :: 78KM

The 78km Motu Road Trail follows the historic coach road from Matawai (high on the ranges between Opotiki and Gisborne) to the coast and on to Opotiki. Opened in 1914, the Motu Road offered the first wheeled-vehicle access through the ranges between the two Bays.

The Moto Road Trail is challenging with a number of climbs and longer descents through bush-clad hill country and isolated farmland. A good fitness level is required and starting the trail at Matawai will reduce the length of the climbs and provide more opportunities to take in the view. Starting from the Opotiki end, it's a long and challenging day that gradually sees you climbing all the way to Motu - with a number of descents to break up the journey. 

From Matawai the trail starts with a 14km relatively flat cycle to Motu. From here consider a detour to the spectacular Motu Falls. Motu School is situated at the junction of Motu Road and offers a newly erected shelter and toilet block.

After leaving Motu School get ready for a steep incline. Approximately 3kms long, this climb is hardest and possibly longest climb on the Motu Road. As always, the view at the top is worth it! From here the road follows the relatively flat ridge line. 

Following Motu Road, the Pakihi Track will be the next stop for mountain riders keen for a 44km diversion back into town. For beginners, continue north and the Motu Road will take you back down the coastline and onto the Dunes Trail. A series of inclines and descends awaits you over the next 37 kms.

A moderate fitness level is required and although this fantastic trail could be completed in a day, an overnight stop will allow it to be enjoyed to the full.

Pakihi Track :: Expert Grade 4-5 :: 44KM

The Pakihi Track begins at approximately 29kms along Motu Road and what follows is 20kms of splendid isolation and fantastic riding. The largely downhill Track takes you through stunning bush, with panoramas and multiple crossings of the ever-present stream resulting in plenty of time to take breaks. 

The track’s numerous steep drop-offs call for a high level of technical riding.

Approximately 10km into the Pakihi Track, is the original DOC Pakihi Hut. This hut offers a much needed rest and an opportunity to discover the beauty of the Urutawa Conservation Area. Reaching the lower sections of the Pakihi Track, the trail will hug the Pakihi Stream.

By the time ‘civilisation’ (in the form of Pakihi Road) is reached, you will have enjoyed a wilderness ride with few equals on the North Island. Opotiki is still 24kms away, with approximately 7km on gravel road to tackle before hitting a sealed road to take you back into town for a well deserved beer. This is some fantastic single track riding and is without a doubt some of the best downhill and remote riding on the North Island. 

Loop Trail :: Intermediate :: 91KM Open

Combine the Dunes Trail, Motu Trail and the Pakihi Trail and you have the ingredients of a demanding 91km Loop Trail – and the recipe for an unforgettable cycling expedition.

This is a full day mission that should only be attempted by keen and experienced riders. Starting from Opotiki you'll climb over 600 metres before reaching the start of the Pakihi Track. This Loop Trail will take anywhere from 6 - 12 hours depending on your level of fitness and the number of stops you take to break up the journey. 


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  • Motu Road Trail.2
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  • Motu 2
  • Motu 1
  • Cycling to Opotiki
  • Pakihi Track 3
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  • Motu Road
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  • Leaving Bushaven Campground near start of Motu loop
  • Dune Track Motu loop