Rolling hills and a mix of gravel and sealed roads make Rere Falls Trail a comfortable ride for those who want to experience the special sights and scenery of one of New Zealand’s most remote regions.
This trail is a richly rewarding cycle link from the Motu Trails in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, through to the sunny city of Gisborne.
Meandering along mostly quiet country roads, the trail undulates through hill country to the fertile flats of Tairāwhiti. Highlights include Eastwoodhill Arboretum, stunning Rere Falls and Rere Rockslide, and the wineries around Gisborne.
The trail can be ridden in either direction – though you’ll get much more downhill by starting from the historic village of Matawai (linking to the Motu Trails) and ending your ride in Gisborne.
From Matawai, you have 7km riding on SH2 before turning off onto a quiet, rolling country road, peaking at an altitude of 600 metres. After another 7km, the road becomes gravel for the next 27km and features some solid climbs. The spectacular scenery is a mix of high country farms, forested reserves and peaks.
At Te Wera Station, approximately midway between Matawai and Eastwoodhill Arboretum, there is farmstay accommodation available.
The sealed road resumes soon before you reach Rere Rockslide and Rere Falls. A little further, Eastwoodhill, the National Arboretum of New Zealand with a stunning display of exotic and native trees. Walking tracks offer an opportunity to see many rare and unique species; accommodation is available.
The trail carries on down to the fertile Poverty Bay plains, home to some of Gisborne’s finest wineries. From there it’s easy going on flat roads to central Gisborne and stunning beaches.
State Highway 2 south of Gisborne is not recommended for those who are not confident riding with traffic. There is an alternative to SH2 between Gisborne and Wairoa, via Tiniroto Rd. A bus or shuttle is recommended to travel south from Wairoa to reach Hawke’s Bay and the Hawke’s Bay Trails.
The surface of this route is approximately 75% sealed road and 25% gravel road. The first 7km is on State Highway 2 which has moderate traffic volumes and narrow shoulders so riders should take extra care and keep left. The remainder of the route to Gisborne follows quiet country roads but riders should still expect traffic at any time. There are number of intersections on the outskirts of Gisborne so riders must have good road sense.
FITNESS & SKILLS
This grade 3 (intermediate) route has a good deal of climbing. The full distance is best suited to fit riders with some cycle touring experience.
Rere Falls Trail is commonly split into much shorter rides, for example Eastwoodhill to Gisborne, or Eastwoodhill to Rere Falls and back. Many also link the Motu Trails and Rere Falls Trail, for a hilly, spectacular crossing of Eastland.
WHEN TO RIDE
Warm summers and mild winters make it possible to ride this trail all year round. However, weather conditions inland can be highly changeable, and will be considerably colder than the coast in the winter months. Regardless of the time of year, be sure to check the weather forecast and pack warm and weatherproof clothing for all possibilities.
TRANSPORT, ACCOMMODATION & FOOD
Inland, this cycling route is remote, with only a few businesses providing visitor services along the way. Cyclists are advised to carry sufficient water and food for the duration of their ride, and book accommodation in advance. Note that there is no reliable public facility to fill your water bottle between Matawai and Eastwoodhill.
Guided tours and self-guided packages, plus bike hire, are available from Gisborne.
Gisborne, the ride’s major town, has a regional airport, bus connections, and plenty of visitor services including accommodation and restaurants.
MAPS & NAVIGATION
New Zealand’s country roads are well signposted, but a map will prevent wrong turns, help you time your ride, and identify points of interest along the way. There's a brochure on the Motu Trails website, along with a downloadable map.
Coverage is good around Gisborne and the plains, but patchy or non-existent inland.
Toilets can be found at Matawai, Rere Rockslide, Rere Falls, Eastwoodhill Arboretum, and from the Gisborne outskirts.