Cyclone Gabrielle – Great Rides update

Published 2023-04-04

Our thoughts and best wishes go out to everyone who was affected by Cyclone Gabrielle in February. Flooding, slips and tree-fall caused significant damage to some of the North Island's Great Rides, but most of the trails are now open.

Here's the latest news from the affected trails, including updates on repairs and what sections are rideable.

Hawke's Bay Trails – the sun's shining again!

February seems like a lifetime ago for Hawke’s Bay's residents – the prospects of a long weekend and Easter school holidays are being eagerly anticipated. Yes, the trails incurred significant damage but, amazingly, 70% of them are open and being enjoyed by locals and visitors. This handy up-to-date map, from the good folk that look after the trails, shows where you can ride.

The coastal section stretching from Bay View, around Napier, via Clive to Cape Kidnappers in the south is looking fabulous, with lots of opportunities to get out on this wonderful Great Ride and enjoy most of the region's sights and legendary hospitality.

You can help by coming for a visit and supporting local businesses, they look forward to hiring you a bike, pouring you a coffee or wine, and serving you mouth-watering meals and delectable pastries. It's going to take a while for Hawke’s Bay’s communities to recover fully, and for trail damage to be completely repaired, and your support is appreciated.


The Marine Parade Viewing Platform, post cyclone (credit Hawke's Bay Tourism).

The Marine Parade Viewing Platform, post cyclone (Hawke's Bay Tourism).

If travelling from the north consider flying in and hiring bikes to enjoy a few days in the Bay or a long weekend. The local cycle hire/tour businesses are looking forward to welcome you for a multi-day tour or sorting bikes for a day ride. Check out the Hawke's Bay Trails' official partners who offer bike hire and tours, stunning accommodation options, fantastic attractions, and awesome places to eat and drink.

If you're looking for more reasons to visit, check out this segment from Seven Sharp!

Get the latest updates on the Hawke’s Bay Trails’ official website and Facebook page.

Tennyson Cafe, Napier (Hawke's Bay Tourism).

The Bay's legendary hospitality – another great reason to visit (Hawke's Bay Tourism).

If you want to help out by donating, we recommend the Hawke's Bay Disaster Relief Fund, designed to help local communities, individuals, families, community organisations and marae get immediate access to funds to assist with recovery – all funds go directly into the Hawke's Bay's communities. You can donate online here, or text DONATE to 5569 (from NZ only) to access the donation form on your mobile – every little bit counts. For more information on the fund, click here

Hauraki Rail Trail – Waikino to Waihi open again!

Flooding and slips occurred at several locations along the Hauraki Rail Trail, including around Thames, Paeroa, Te Aroha, and especially on the section between Waikino and Waihi where the most significant trail damage occurred. 

Cyclone Gabrielle damage between Waikino and Waihi (Hauraki Rail Trail).

Thanks to some epic and speedy repair work by the Hauraki District Council and C&M contractors, most of this Great Ride is open and rideable again, with the following exceptions/advisories:

Section C (Paeroa to Waihi) OPEN! – large slips and washouts closed the trail between Waikino train station and Waihi. However, we're thrilled to announce that it's reopening in time for Easter. Please be careful when riding out there as the trail's full riding surface hasn't been reinstated yet, so it might be a bit soft in places. Volunteers will be working on the trail to clear the fence lines – please give them the thumbs up and a big 'hurrah' if you see them.

Riders can also catch the Goldfields Railway between Waikino and Waihi from Thursdays to Sundays (closed Good Friday) – it's a wonderful heritage rail experience for young and old, and you can take your bikes on board too. Click here for the train timetable. Other highlights of Hauraki Rail Trail's Section C are the spectacular Karangahake Gorge with its fascinating gold mining relics, and the spooky 1100m tunnel. Don't forget to bring your torch or bike lights!

Goldfields Railway at Waikino Station on Hauraki Rail Trail

Hop aboard the Goldfields Railway at Waikino Station (Hauraki Rail Trail).

Section A (Kaiaua to Thames) – the trail between Waitakaruru and Kopu is closed for the foreseeable future due to stopbank work being carried, although this schedule closure has nothing to do with the cyclone.

Most of the Hauraki Rail Trail is open and riding well – local attractions and businesses are operating and can't wait to welcome you. There's heaps to see and do along the trail and plenty of accommodation and places to eat and drink in the hub-towns of Kaiaua, Thames, Paeroa, Waihi, Te Aroha and Matamata. Find out more about the Hauraki Rail Trail and plan a trip here, and please support the trail's official partners when you visit.

Regular updates are provided by the awesome Hauraki Rail Trail team on their Facebook page and official website.

Motu Trails – Dunes Trail and Motu Road OPEN, Pakihi CLOSED

The Pakihi Track section of the Motu Trails in the Eastern Bay of Plenty has been deemed unsafe by the Department of Conservation and the department has decided that a significant geotechnical assessment is required. It's likely that the track will remain closed for at least a couple of months; updates will be posted on the Motu Trails' Facebook page and the DOC website

There is, however, fantastic riding still to be had in this special corner of Aotearoa New Zealand. Storm debris was cleared quickly from the Dunes Trail, and this wonderful oceanside ride, accessed from Ōpōtiki, is fully open and a great option for families and riders of all ages and abilities.

Cyclone debris on the Dunes Trail (Motu Trails)

Cyclone debris on the Dunes Trail (Motu Trails).

... and how the Dunes Trail normally looks and looks now (NZ Cycling Journal).

The Motu Road section is also open and a rewarding way to experience the mighty forest and rural landscapes of the Bay's hinterland. Following a historic byway inland it reaches the remote settlements of Motu and Matawai, with an option to detour to the impressive Motu Falls. With a highpoint of 750m, there's a fair amount of climbing on the Motu Road, but the views are worth it. Alternatively, you can get a local shuttle to drop your group off at the top and cycle all the way back down to sea level.

The Motu Road, Motu Trails (credit Cam Mackenzie)

Climbing up the marvellous Motu Road (Cam Mackenzie).

Check out the trail's official partners here, and email local legend and trail manager Jim for more information and the latest trail conditions.

Waikato River Trails – OPEN

High winds from the cyclone downed quite a few pine trees along the Waikato River Trails, however, the track has been cleared and the vast majority of this Great Ride beside New Zealand's longest river is open to bikers and walkers. 

Currently, the section of trail between Waipapa Dam to Maraetai Dam Access Road on the Waipapa section is closed on weekdays (Monday through Friday) while forestry work is being carried out. Detours will be in place until the work is completed.

For the latest news, keep an eye on the Waikato River Trails official website.

Eye-catching sculpture and beautiful riverside riding – a common feature along the Waikato River Trails.

Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail – OPEN!

Lots of folk have been asking whether Northland's Great Ride is open after Cyclone Gabrielle and other recent weather events. Rest assured it's in tip-top condition for riding (or walking/running). Pou Heranga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail's official partners are ready to welcome you to the winterless north! Why not head up and ride Aotearoa's only coast-to-coast cycle trail –tracing a satisfying, scenic and cultural journey from the beautiful Bay of Islands to the magical Hokianga Harbour.

Plan your trip here or on the official trail website.

The 1200m Horeke Boardwalk – the longest on the Great Rides of New Zealand (Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail).

Looking for more autumn cycling inspiration? Check out these articles:

Autumn – a fine time to ride

Biking holidays on a budget

Great Ride updates – Autumn 2023

Discover all 23 Great Rides of New Zealand here