Photo credit: Jonathan Kennett.
This pleasant link between Dargaville and central Auckland features a boat trip across the beautiful Kaipara Harbour, Helensville’s pleasant Victorian village vibe, and a gentle cruise through pretty countryside.

As the name suggests, the Kaipara Missing link provides a key link between Auckland and Northland’s touring routes and Great Rides including the Kauri Coast, Far North and Twin Coast Cycleways.

This is a fairly long haul, the 118km route taking at least 10 hours, with a 2–3 hour boat trip to factor in too.

The trail is described here from north to south, the trail’s start at Dargaville being the southern end of the Kauri Coast Cycleway Heartland Ride. 

DargavillePouto Point

65km, intermediate, 4–7 hours

Cycle west from Dargaville on River Road, which becomes Pouto Road. At the 12km mark is the village of Te Kopuru, which has a general store.

There are two options from Te Kopuru – the beach ride or the road.

The beach ride is the best way to go when the wind direction is favourable, but note that it’s only possible to ride on the beach within 2.5 hours either side of low tide, so check the tide times carefully before committing.

To reach the beach, turn right onto West Coast Road, then left onto Redhill Road, right onto Glinks Road and cycle out to the coast.

For the road option, simply continue from Te Kopuru along Pouto Road directly to Pouto Point. It’s worth taking the detour down to Kellys Bay; look for the left turn down a gravel road at around the 45km mark (from Dargaville). You can then continue along Kellys Bay Road up take the steep gravel-road climb out of the back to loop back to Pouto Road 5km further southwest, which returns to Pouto Rd. This detour will add approximately 4km to the overall distance.

Note that the last 5km to Pouto Village is on gravel.

A boat trip can be arranged across Kaipara Harbour from Pouto Village to Parakai, 3km from Helensville.

Consider spending some time exploring the Pouto Peninsula’s beautiful scenery before you across the Kaipara, New Zealand’s largest inland harbour.

The Kaipara Harbour crossing will need to be arranged in advance, with the main options being Kaipara Cruises or a charter service. It’s also worth considering taking a fishing trip, which will not only get you across the harbour but make a real adventure of it!

Pouto PointAuckland central

53km, intermediate, 5–6 hours

The cross-harbour boat trip will take you to Parakai, 3km from Helensville. Parakai is known for its geothermal water recreation centre complete with large indoor and outdoor pools, hydroslides, BBQ and picnic areas.

Helensville is a good place to break the journey overnight. Victorian buildings house antique and collectibles shops, hotels and cafes, while the river meanders pleasantly through the town and fresh salt air sweeps in from the nearby harbour. There’s also plenty of visitor accommodation.

The route to Auckland continues from Helensville’s the main street; simply head right up any side street to reach Garfield Road.

Turn right along Garfield, which becomes Wishart Road and then Old North Road where it meets Inland Road on the left. Keep on Old North Road until Nixon Road (also known as Taupaki Road), which becomes Red Hills Road as it leads to the west Auckland suburb of Massey (19 km from downtown Auckland).

Your best bet for navigating your way into the city centre is to look up the Auckland Transport Cycle Route maps; many of the routes are well signposted.


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 80% sealed road (including cycle paths in Auckland) and 20% gravel road. The roads from Dargaville to Te Kopuru and Helensville to Massey are moderately busy. Riders should have good road sense and be prepared to encounter traffic at any time. Particular care should be taken along Poutu Road where it can be busy with logging trucks on weekdays.

WARNING: the 200-metre section of Don Buck Road between Red Hills Road and Triangle Road does not meet New Zealand Cycle Trail safety criteria. We recommend you dismount and walk this short section.


This grade 3 (intermediate) ride is flat to undulating with some steep climbs, and is best suited to reasonably fit riders with some cycle touring experience.


Touring bikes and mountain bikes are suitable for the terrain. E-bikes, with sufficient battery capacity, can also be ridden. Riders should ideally have basic mechanical skills and carry a tool kit and spares.


New Zealand’s country roads are well sign-posted, but a map will help prevent wrong turns, help you time your ride, and identify points of interest along the way.

Use the Auckland Cycle Network maps to follow the commuting cycle paths and lanes from Massey to the top of Queen Street in central Auckland. The route is signposted most of the way as Northwestern Cycleway.


Warm summers and mild winters make it possible to ride this trail all year round. However, stormy conditions can delay boat trips across Kaipara Harbour.


Accommodation options are available in Dargaville, Te Kopuru, Kellys Bay (campground), Pouto Point, Parakai, Helensville and Auckland.


There are no shops at Pouto Point. Supplies can be purchased at Dargaville, Te Kopuru, Prakai, Helensville and Auckland.


Catch a bus to Dargaville or link this trail with the Kauri Coast Cycleway to the north.

A boat trip across Kaipara Harbour from Pouto Point to Parakai, 3km from Helensville, takes 2–3 hours depending on conditions. The crossing will need to be arranged in advance, with the main options being Kaipara Cruises or a charter service. It’s also worth considering taking a fishing trip, which will not only get you across the harbour but make a real adventure of it!


Coverage is available at Dargaville and Parakai, and from Helensville south.


There are toilets at Dargaville, Te Kopuru, Kellys Bay, Pouto Point, Parakai, Helensvile and Auckland.



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