Cycling the Timber Trail
Just completed riding one of John Key's new cycleways in the Pureroa forest park west of Late Taupo. The Timber Trail hasn't been officially opened yet and construction is still being carried out on a small portion of the track. To enable an early start we spent the night at the Pureora cabins, a 100m away from the start of the track. There are a number of other mountain biking tracks being developed in addition to the Timber Trail so the area has the potential to be another great mountain biking location.
We completed the trail over two days staying at the rustic Blackfern Lodge Forge which splits up the ride evenly. Our group of six completed each day in about 5.5hrs including the additional 6km detour to/from the lodge. The first days 45km cycle provided a stunning ride thru the remnants of the great forests saved by a small, vocal group of environmentalists in the 1970s. A steady zig, zag climb up the slopes of Mt Pureora to approx 1000m contour and then a fantastic undulating ride including crossing some huge 100m+ swing bridges. Our hosts at Blackfern lodge provided us with some rehydration fluid on arrival after a hot day in the saddle and a wonderful two course meal with wine to complete a great day. The 16 bunk, converted shearing shed had ample room to spread out with a great deck and BBQ area.
Day Two, a 55km mostly downhill ride had huge smiles on our faces as we coasted downhill for what seemed like forever!! But first there was a climb back up to the main track, tired legs and sore butts had us walking to warm up. Crossing the monstrous 140m swingbridge with its 60m drop had us impressed with the huge effort it must have taken to assemble and erect the 40 odd bridges along the trail. Much of day two's route was on the old Ongareu Tramway, with heaps of information signs beside the trail detailing historical points of interest.
A new parking area at the end provided us with a area to wait for the shuttle from Blackfern lodge to pick us and our bikes up and return us to our cars at Pureora, approx an hour north. We enjoyed this great new addition to the NZ Cycle Trail, the five million spent seems to be a good investment for the area with reports from Blackfern lodge of being booked out in the weekends from last November. The track surface comprised mostly of metal and pumice with a hard packed surface on the old tramway. The challenge going forward will be maintaining the trail as there is no revenue derived from the users.
I have already got a party of work colleagues and friends interested in riding this again next summer. We may need to book accommodation early as I anticipate this ride will become very popular and a "must do" for MT bikers.