Cyclone Gabrielle – Great Rides update

Published 2023-03-15

Our thoughts and best wishes go out to everyone affected by Cyclone Gabrielle. Flooding and slips have caused significant damage to some of the North Island's Great Rides. Here's the latest news from the trails that have been affected, and how you can help these communities recover.
Hawke's Bay Trails

The Hawke’s Bay Trails have incurred significant damage, resulting in the closure of approximately 30% of the trails, as shown on this up-to-date map. Much of the inland sections on the Ngaruroro/ Tūtaekurī rivers are closed, and part of the Tukituki loop, on the foothills of Te Mata Peak. The coastal section that stretches from Bay View, around Napier, via Clive to Cape Kidnappers in the south is relatively unscathed, so there are still opportunities to get out on this wonderful Great Ride and enjoy most of the region's sights and legendary hospitality.

It's going to take a long time for Hawke’s Bay’s communities to recover fully, and for trail damage to be completely repaired. You can, however, do your bit to help the locals by coming for a visit and enjoying the open sections.

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 or a long weekend. The local cycle hire/tour businesses are looking forward to welcome you for a multi-day tour or hiring you 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. Get the latest updates and trail openings 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).

In the meantime, please consider donating to 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. You can donate online here, or text DONATE to 5569 (from NZ only) to access the donation form on your mobile – every little counts. For more information on the fund, click here

Hauraki Rail Trail

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 damage to the trail has occurred.

Flooding near Paeroa (Hauraki Rail Trail).

Thankfully, the waters have receded and most of the Hauraki Rail Trail sections are open again and rideable, with the following exceptions/advisories:

Section C (Paeroa to Waihi) – there are significant slips and washouts between Waikino train station and Waihi that have resulted in extensive damage to this trail section. Repair work is underway and, while getting the trail back to tip-top condition may take considerable time, it's hoped that it will be rideable again in time for Easter, with signage to help bikers navigate it safely.

The rest of this trail section from Paeroa to Waikino station remains open, which means you can still enjoy the spectacular Karangahake Gorge, its fascinating gold mining relics and the spooky 1100m tunnel! 

The Goldfields Railway is also still running between Waikino and Waihi from Thursday to Sunday – a wonderful heritage rail experience for young and old, and you can take your bikes on board too. Click here for the train timetable.

Goldfields Railway at Waikino Station on Hauraki Rail Trail

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

Section B (Thames to Paeroa) – now open, although there is likely to be a temporary closure of the trail near Kopu towards the end of March (announcements to be made on the trail's Facebook page).

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 – the local attractions are still there, 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

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 possible that the track won't reopen for several months; updates will be posted on the Motu Trails' Facebook page and the DOC website

There is, however, some fantastic riding still to be had in the special corner of Aotearoa New Zealand. Recent storm debris has now been cleared 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

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

Currently, the 7km section of trail between SH1 at Atiamuri and Tram Road on the Whakamaru section is closed weekdays while the trees are removed. This forestry work should be completed by mid April, with a signed detour in place until then. 

For the latest updates, 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.

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