An opportunity to enjoy the glorious cycle rides beside the Waikato River and on the Hauraki Rail Trail, plus a breath-taking kayak into the Glowworm Canyon.
$2,195 per person, share twin
$750 single supplement
23 – 27 May, 2021 WAITLIST
Grade 1 & 2
Easy cycling on well formed trails
• 4 breakfasts, 1 lunch & 1 dinner
• Glow Worm kayak trip on the Waikato River
• Accommodation as listed in the itinerary
• E-Bike rental, helmet & panniers bags
• Hauraki Rail Trail Map
• Private transport for you, your luggage and the E-Bikes
• Full technical & backup support
• Services of Tours Direct Tour Leader, Mandy Page
• Domestic airfares
This morning we depart Auckland from the Greenlane Countdown Carpark. If you are coming from out of town, we have some overnight accommodation recommendations close by.
First stop is historic Ngaruawahia, and the place where two rivers meet. The newly developed cycle trail is a joy to ride as we follow the mighty Waikato River. (25 kms, Grade 2, Easy). A highlight along the way is the iconic Perry Bridge, one of the longest walk/cycle bridges in New Zealand!
Before we start we will have bike fittings and a practice in the rotunda area. Then, its off and away along the river trail. Our destination is the award-winning Hamilton Gardens; a great place for an independent lunch and an opportunity to stretch your leg muscles as you walk around the themed areas in the gardens. When we are ready we take our private transport to the Cambridge accommodation. Here you can either have some leisure time or take the Cambridge to Karapiro cycle trail (16 kms return, Grade 2, Easy).
Late afternoon we gather together to take our transport to the start of the Kayaking adventure. We start from the Epworth camp and kayak our way down a truly beautiful section of the Waikato River to the Pokaiwhenua stream. With stunning twilight lake views, we head under the Pokaiwhenua Bridge and into the glowworm canyon.
Draped with native ferns, the canyon offers a true slice of New Zealand Beauty, and as the light fades away, the unique incandescence of the glowworms starts to shine from the surrounding walls. After a quick glass of some of New Zealand’s finest wines complemented with some tasty cheeses, we can enjoy over the warmth of a campfire, it’s back in the boats, as we drift slowly downstream using only the light from the glowworms. Viewing glowworms from a kayak on the surface of the world is a whole different experience from seeing them inside a cave, like at Waitomo.
When we return to Cambridge its an independent dinner and overnight at our hotel.
Accommodation at the Hidden Lake Hotel, Cambridge
After breakfast we travel by private transport to the Pokaiwhenua Bridge car park, beside Lake Karapiro. The first half of the cycle trail follows an easy path beside the road, before winding beside Lake Karapiro for the rest of the way to Arapuni. As the trail nears the village it crosses the Huihuitaha Wetland on 500 metres of boardwalk. This allows us to pass through the area without damaging this special (and regenerating) riparian habitat.
We are heading towards Arapuni’s Rhubarb Cafe via the Arapuni Suspension Bridge. The bridge was built in the 1920s so construction workers could get to the power station site. At 152m long and over 50m high, it’s an impressive pedestrian (and cycling!) bridge.
Then its back in the private transport to travel to Matamata. Whilst we may be on the look-out for hobbits (I don’t think bicycles are featured in Tolkien’s books), we are also going to be cycling on the newly finished cycle way from Matamata to Te Aroha. This is a lovely easy ride past lush Waikato farmland and horse studs.
Along the way we hope to have an independent lunch at the delicious Café 77, Manawaru, nicely situated right by the trail. After lunch its off and away on our bikes to Te Aroha (The Mountain of Love). Te Aroha is a small rural town; its historic mineral spas are a great way to soothe pedal-weary muscles. There is a lovely town domain, some great walkways, quirky art and cafes. This historic town is full of interesting bits and pieces from the colonial days of New Zealand and the gold days.
As a special treat for the group we have a tour with Sculptor Adrian Worsley. He designs and constructs unique and original sculptures entirely from recycled materials in his studio/workshop in Te Aroha.
Accommodation at Te Aroha Motel, Te Aroha
Today we continue on the Haurakai Rail Trail as we cycle to Paeroa and then on to Waihi. The day begins with a leisurely ride through serene country landscapes beside the Kaimai Ranges.
The trail to Paeroa is easy, through pretty Waikato countryside with curious dairy cows. When we reach Paeroa we can take the iconic photo with the L & P bottle and have a rest.
When we are ready its off to Waihi. Some say this is the most beautiful part of the Hauraki Rail Trail as it passes through the dramatic and stunning Karangahake Gorge; a deep canyon cut through the Kaimai Ranges. This distinctly different landscape includes the cascading Owharoa waterfall, photogenic gold mining sites, the charmingly old-fashioned Victoria Battery museum, and the freaky Windows Walkway that burrows through a shadowy side-gorge.
The pièce de résistance is an amazing 1,100-metre long railway tunnel. Halfway along the trail is the Waikino Station where there’s a charming railway cafe . This is the terminus of the Goldfields Railway vintage train which runs between Waikino and Waihi.
Waihi, the ‘Heart of Gold’ town still has the operational Martha Mine. If you have the energy you can cycle around the rim of Martha.
Late afternoon we will take our private transport back to Paeroa for the night.
Accommodation at Pedlars Motel, Paeroa
Today we tackle the Paeroa to Thames section of the Rail Trail. Our aim is to reach Thames township, rich in pioneering and gold-mining history. Along the way we suggest you pop into The Cheese Barn café at Matatoki.
This section of the trail is through rural tranquillity with views of the Hauraki Plains and Coromandel Ranges.
Tonight we will have dinner together at Grahamstown Bar & Diner (The GBD).
Accommodation at Rolleston Motel, Thames
Today we are going to cycle from Thames to Miranda, the trail following the curve of the Firth of Thames. We should have glorious views of the water and the birds.
As we leave Thames you may like to stop and enjoy the many sculptures along the community’s Arts Trail.
We finish our cycling at Miranda, where we will enjoy a picnic lunch.
We visit the Pukorokoro-Miranda Shorebird Centre and travel back to Auckland.
Mandy lives in Auckland and is a walker and cyclist. She has led 58 tours for Tours Direct over the last 18 years, and just loves travelling with its adventure and fun. Believing that most of the delight of travel is in the journey, Mandy likes to make tours flexible for different levels of fitness and experience. In 2019 she was tour leader for a Danube Boat & Bike tour and in early 2021 was tour leader for an E-Bike Otago Rail Tour. Mandy discovered the joy of E-Biking by accident and is now an enthusiastic devotee.
“Thank you so much for a superb trip I had with you on the recent E-Bike: Classic Otago Rail Trail and Southern Lakes.
I thoroughly enjoyed every moment of it and am still feeling the buzz!
I appreciate all the planning,care and consideration it takes to have a successful, fun, safe, informative trip.
You are a great team and the others a friendly bunch of people.”
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