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The 85-kilometer Timber Trail joins two old logging tramways in the Pureora Forest running from Puerora south-west towards Ongarue. This one-to-two day adventure stretches through four ecological areas showcasing remnants of the great forests that once dominated this remote area of New Zealand's North Island. It's a fantastic ride, undoubtedly one of the North Island's best, and thanks to ongoing improvements is increasingly accessible for intermediate riders.
A highlight of this track is the huge variety of riding cyclists will get to experience - everything from newly built single track, to historic bush tramways to easy-riding 4x4 tracks all make for an excellent day on the saddle. Over the 85 kms riders will pass over 35 bridges including 8 inspiring suspension bridges - the longest an incredible 141 metres! The Timber Trail lives up to its name, taking cyclists past forests of rimu, totara, miro, matai, kahikatea and exotic plantation forests.
Pureora is a former saw milling stronghold with a rich historic and natural heritage. The Pureora Timber Trail runs along the historic Ellis and Burnand Ongarue Tramway (1922 - 1958) for over half its length, as well as old logging roads and new sections of track through Pureora Forest Park. The tramway, which is mostly on DOC land, is the longest bush tramway in New Zealand. The highlight is the Ongarue Spiral - a triumph in bush engineering.
Pureora to Piropiro (40 km)
Day One sees cyclists begin in Pureora Forest village and head south towards Mt Pureora through native bush. The highest point, the western flank of Mount Pureora, is reached after a well graded but challenging 14 km climb. The grunt is worth it in the end, as after this climb cyclists descend down smooth, flowy single track to Angels Rest. Those keen on overnighting can camp the at Piropiro DOC Campsite or arrange transportation back to a nearby B&B. Alternatively, the Black Fern Lodge or the new Timber Trail Lodge offer comfortable accommodation not far from the trail.
Piropiro to Ongarue Trail Head (45 km)
Day Two departs from Piropiro Flats towards the impressive swing bridge at Maramataha, the longest of the trails 8 large suspension bridges, and continues to the old Waione cookhouse. After passing the Ongarue Spiral - another highlight of the second day - get ready for 12 kms of enjoyable, mostly-flat riding along old logging roads to the Ongarue carpark. Features of the afternoon is the 90 meter suspension bridge over Mangatukutuku Stream and a reconstructed timber trestle bridge at Goat Creek. If you haven't arranged a collection, a further 7 km of gravel road will take you into Ongarue.
Whilst this trail can be ridden in either direction, riding the reverse direction makes it a significantly more challenging ride (due to the elevation gain). Keen cyclists can knock off the trail in a day, but those looking for a more leisurely trip should take two. This is a brilliant ride, full of history from logging days gone by, and the many information boards telling the history of the area add another reason for taking your time on the journey.