Waikato River Trails


The Waikato River Trails span 100km along New Zealand’s longest river, the “Mighty Waikato”.

The trails are an off-road mountain biking experience with a mountain-biking grade of 4, advanced. The southern and northern ends are grades 1-2; which include lakes Karapiro, Whakamaru and Maraetai. Lakes Waipapa and Arapuni are grades 2-3.

The best time to ride the trail is September to May. The Waikato has a temperate climate so all but the mid-winter months are ideal for riding.

Although very close to Taupo, Tauranga, Auckland, Rotorua and Hamilton the Waikato River Trails are actually very “far away” from city life. They are a unique natural experience for your senses.

48km of the trails are already open and in use, 47km are completed but yet to be opened, and 5km are still under construction. The remaining 5km sections are at lakes Arapuni and Maraetai.

The journey comprises five lakes, four hydro dams and some small towns and villages. Along the journey you will get to see the very best of the Waikato’s natural environment. You can wonder at the beauty of native bush, exotic forest, historic landmarks, and intriguing volcanic rock formations along the way. The trails pass through grassed farmland, open reserves, with boardwalks through wetlands, as well as expansive lake and river views.

You will also find stories of the region’s rich history sign-posted along your journey.

Access to Waikato River Trails

To the north, access is off SH1 onto Horahora Road, driving for 5km before reaching the Pokaiwhenua Bridge car park which is the starting point of the Karapiro Trail. And to the south, access is off SH1 onto Ongaroto Road (SH30); 50m from the turnoff brings you to the start of the Atiamuri Trail.

Waikato River Trails Highlights

Pokaiwhenua Bridge Car Park to Atiamuri

  • Huihuitaha Wetlands – abundance of wildlife
  • Stunning Views
  • Historic Arapuni Swingbridge
  • Powerhouse dating back to the 1920s
  • pink ignimbrite rock formations
  • Lookout high above Jones Landing across lake Arapuni
  • Views of ancient volcanic peaks
  • Whakamaru Reserve
  • Towering rocky ignimbrite bluffs
  • Panorama views of Lake Whakamaru
  • Fantastic Birdlife
  • Magnificent views of majestic Pohaturoa
This website brings you detailed information about the New Zealand Cycle Trail Project (Nga Haerenga). Plus the other great bike rides of NZ.

The mission of this website is to be the number one resource for all the cycle trails. With information about trail routes, trail descriptions, bike hire, transport, accommodation, restaurants/cafes and much more.

We provide you all the information you need in order for you to plan and book your entire cycling experience from one place.