Taking in big hill climbs, steep descents, and wonderful forest, this ride is suited to cyclists with good fitness or on e-bikes.

Located less than 40km from downtown Auckland, the Hūnua Traverse is Auckland’s premier destination for gravel riding. You can ride it in both directions, which means it's a great, day-long 89km there-and-back ride for those keen on some serious hill training on quiet roads.

For riders looking for a gravel and tarseal combo, consider travelling back to your start point via the scenic roads of the Seabird and Kawakawa Bay coasts. Make sure you check the wind direction before you set off to avoid headwinds on the coast. Your legs will thank you for it.

And a word of warning - Clevedon-Kawakawa Road is suited to experienced road cyclists only as it has narrow shoulders and high volumes of traffic, particularly on weekends and public holidays.

The Hūnua Traverse is an excellent connection out of Auckland and is part of the official Tour Aotearoa Route. Touring riders coming from Auckland can travel via ferry from the city centre to Pine Harbour and then bike to Clevedon township. Clevedon has a range of cafes and convenience stores so make sure you refuel before you continue on.

From Clevedon it's an 8km climb on public roads to the Otau Mountain Road entrance. In 2024 this entrance is only open on weekends and public holidays due to forestry harvesting. On weekdays please use the alternative access point at Moumoukai Hill Road, accessed via Ness Valley Road (refer 'Ness Valley Alternate Access Route' on the official trail map).

The remote ride through Hūnua Ranges Regional Park involves some more climbing followed by a long descent through forest to Upper Mangatāwhiri Dam. At the dam there are toilets, a picnic area, campground and an emergency phone. Follow a short section of shared path and single track past a bike skills area and through a bike and shoe cleaning station (see note below re the risk of kauri dieback disease). 

From the Upper Mangatāwhiri Dam, it's a flat ride for a few kilometres, then a steep climb to Mangatangi Trig Campground (including portions that are >12%). From near the trig a long downhill leads to Mangatangi Dam and Workman Road. The last 10km is on sealed road, and is mostly downhill to Kaiaua on the edge of the Firth of Thames.

At Kaiaua, riders can connect into the Hauraki Rail Trail, one of 23 Great Rides of New Zealand that will take you deep into the Waikato. 

The Hūnua Traverse features a mix of sealed public and gravel roads through the regional park. They may be quiet, but be prepared to meet traffic around every bend. Keep left and share with care.

With a cumulative elevation gain of more than 1100m, the Hūnua Traverse is not for the faint hearted. It is classified as a Grade 4 ride suited to fit and experienced riders. There is steep terrain, slippery gravel surfacing, off-camber corners and a shared road environment. While not a technical ride, an appropriate level of fitness and bike handling skills are essential.

A helpful source of information about this ride, and other Heartland Rides, is Classic New Zealand Cycle Trails by the Kennett Brothers.


The trail surface is roughly half sealed road and half gravel road. From Clevedon the main road to follow is McNicol Road, which is used by an average of 600 vehicles a day, including logging trucks on weekdays. The section through Hūnua Ranges Regional Park is remote. Apart from a section in the middle, it can't be accessed by car. The main road from Hūnua Regional Park to Kaiaua is Kaiaua Road, used by an average of 700 vehicles a day.


Though the ride is only 45km long, there are two significant hills that require good fitness or an e-bike. The middle half is gravel, which can be slippery at higher speeds. Speed should be controlled on corners.


The gravel roads and steep hills mean this ride requires a mountain bike or a gravel bike. E-bikes with fat tyres would be ideal for those with less fitness.


The Hūnua Traverse is well sign-posted.  You can find a map of the ride here.


There is accommodation available in Clevedon and Kaiaua. There are also camping sites in Hūnua Regional Park. Go to the trail website for more information. You need to book to stay at the campsites


Food is available at Clevedon and Kaiaua. There are no shops in between these two towns. Go well supplied. Potable water is available in Clevedon Village, adjacent the public toilets. Potable water is not currently available within the Hūnua Ranges Regional Park. Please carry your own or sterilise stream water. Work to provide potable water to the Upper Mangatāwhiri Campground is under way. 


From Matamata and Thames, you can ride the Hauraki Rail Trail to Kaiaua. From Auckland, you can catch the ferry to Pine Harbour, then follow local streets and a shared path to Maraetai. From Maraetai, you can ride Maraetai Coast Road and North Road to Clevedon.


There is limited cellphone coverage within Hūnua Regional Park.


There are public toilets at Clevedon, Kaiaua, and in Hūnua Regional Park at the Upper Mangatāwhiri campground and the Wal McQuarrie Visitor Centre.


The Hūnua Ranges Regional Park is home to the largest population of kauri in New Zealand that remains free of the insidious kauri dieback disease, and we want to keep it that way. A clean bike is a condition of entry. All riders are advised to arrive with a clean bike, sterilise at every hygiene station and stay on the track. These biosecurity requirements are policed and riders failing to comply may be fined or trespassed.