Experience the best of both worlds - on the rail track and cycle track. Enjoy a 10 Tunnel Rail Cart experience on Day 1 venturing through 40km of the old SOL rail line and spend the night at Forgotten World Motel. Explore the last stretch of the epic Timber Trail - one of New Zealand's 22 Great Rides - from Piropiro to Ongarue (self-drive to Bennett's Car Park in Ongarue). This makes for a great weekend getaway!
After checking in at the Forgotten World Motel, Taumarunui, we will shuttle you out to your waiting railcart at Okahukura. Set off down the line along 40km of the Forgotten World Railway. Travel through 10 tunnels, including the longest tunnel (1.5km), and marvel at the beautiful handbuilt brick tunnels. Enjoy cruising through stunning hill country farms and native bush.
A lovely ploughman's lunch and our fabulous home baking will be waiting your arrival at Tokirima, after which you will board your return shuttle. On your return journey you'll get to visit Lauren's Lavender Farm, which was placed second in the Top 10 Lavender Farms in New Zealand. Here you can breathe in the relaxing aromas of the lavender fields next to the Whanganui River and browse the gift shop with all the wonderful lavender products. Board the shuttle to return to the Forgotten World Motel.
Depart in your own vehicle to Bennett's Car Park in Ongarue and board your shuttle to the start point of the Southern Half of the Timber Trail in Piropiro (45km)
Highlights on this stretch includes curious logging relics, spectacular suspension bridges, wildlife viewing, weird and wonderful rock formations, hidden swimming spots and the only rideable spiral in the world!
The trail follows a logging road for a couple of kilometres before reentering the forest on single-track, which twists its way mostly uphill. Parts of the trail are on packed shingle and the rest is packed dirt and rocks, but all is a grade level 2 good riding surface. Depending on the rain level, there will be a few puddles along the way!
After about 5km of riding, you'll enjoy a thrilling descent! At the bottom you’ll encounter the amazing Maramataha Suspension Bridge, the country’s highest and longest rideable suspension bridge. You might want to avoid looking down. Or maybe you should…
With the bridge behind you, it’s a steady and challenging climb to Ongarue Tramway terminus. The good news is that you’ve now conquered all the major climbs of the Timber Trail and the trail undulates in a generally downhill direction from this point on, with just a few little climbs to contend with.
Along the old tramway you’ll see remnants of logging history scattered about, including various huts, and you will cross more bridges. Parts of the trail cut through sheer rock faces shrouded in thick native bush where the sun’s rays seldom penetrate. That means mud, so be prepared for the odd splatter on this part of the trail.
Around the 75km mark is the nationally significant Ongarue Spiral, an engineering marvel explained in an interpretation panel. It is also the only rideable spiral in the world. From there, the trail continues to Ongarue, mostly downhill except for a couple of short pinches along the riverside as you burst into rugged farmland dotted with sheep and deer. The official end of the trail is located in the middle of Ongarue township, but some pre-arranged shuttles will collect you at the Bennetts Road car park where Epic Cycle Adventures has a new service centre, where you can enjoy a coffee.
Whilst the Timber Trail cycleway is classified as a Grade 2 (Easy), it is still a long ride and once on the trail, there is no escape route or cellphone coverage. If you are new to cycling or are not as fit as you could be, you need to be prepared for a long day. The average time to do each section of the ride is around 5.5 hours (with lots of stops), but some groups have taken up to 8 hours. Ensure you bring enough water and food to last the day, and have suitable gear.