Following a mix of town streets, country roads and riverside cycleway, this route links Cambridge with the Waikato River Trail at Arapuni.
It features a pretty stretch of Te Awa River Ride, another popular local cycling and walking route along the Waikato River Trail between Lake Karapiro and Ngaruawahia town, northwest of Hamilton.
This ride is just as easy in either direction; here we describe it from the Cambridge end.
Starting at Cambridge i-SITE, head south on Lake Street, then Victoria Street. Just after 1km, cross the Waikato River on Victoria Bridge, then turn east onto Cook Street.
Ride down Cook Street for 300 metres, then turn right onto Shakespeare Street, after just over 1km turn left into Browning Street. Ride for 700 metres to the corner of Carlyle Street and Maungatautari Road.
Take 'Te Awa River Ride' cycle path that leads beside Maungatautari Road to Karapiro Domain and then beside the lake for several hundred metres.
From the end of the 'Te Awa River Ride' cycle path, continue onto Maungatautari Road for 9km, then turn right onto Oreipunga Road for 14km. Turn left onto Arapuni Road.
Cross the first bridge over the Waikato River and turn left onto Powerhouse Road. Cycle down Powerhouse Road for 1.4km, then cross the swing bridge on your right.
The Waikato River Trail and the main street of Arapuni lie on the far side of the swing bridge.
A helpful source of information about this ride, and other Heartland Rides, is Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails by the Kennett Brothers.
The riding surface is around 75% sealed road and 25% concrete cycle path. The first 4km is through Cambridge and can be busy; riders should have good road sense and be confident around intersections with other vehicles. South of Karapiro the roads are quieter but riders should still expect traffic at any time.
FITNESS & SKILLS
The route is relatively flat, with no significant hills over 100m high. It’s a grade 3 (intermediate) route best suited to averagely fit riders with some cycle touring experience.
TYPE OF BIKE
Road bikes or touring bikes are most suitable for the terrain. E-bikes are also suitable. Riders should ideally have basic mechanical skills and carry a tool kit and spares.
MAPS & NAVIGATION
The roads on this ride, and the Te Awa River Ride cycleway, and well signposted, but a map will help prevent wrong turns, help you time your ride, and identify points of interest along the way.
It is possible to ride the route trail all year round. However, it can experience heavy rain at any time of year so a good raincoat is essential.
There are plenty of services and accommodation in Cambridge. Accommodation, including camping, is also available around Lake Karapiro. Arapuni, at the end of this route and the start of the Waikato River Trails, is home to the splendid Rhubarb Cafe and a few accommodation options.
FOOD & WATER
Food is available in Cambridge and Arapuni; drinking water can be sourced at regular intervals along the route, including Lake Karapiro Domain.
Intercity buses service Cambridge. This route also links up Te Awa River Ride in Cambridge, and the Waikato River Trails in Arapuni.
Cellphone coverage is generally good along this route.
There are public toilets at regular intervals along this route.