Great Ride updates – Summer 2022/23

Published 2022-12-12

Here’s the latest news from Ngā Haerenga Great Rides of New Zealand. Read on for even more reasons to get riding this summer – including trail improvements, a new website and hot summer events.
Mangapurua Track set to re-open in the New Year

Extensive work by DOC and contractors over spring means The Mountains to Sea Ngā Ara Tūhono's Mangapurua Track should be open by mid-January! 

Trail manager Lynley Twyman is thrilled with the latest developments, 'We're really excited to see the first of the summer mountain bikers come through and experience this New Zealand backcountry mountain biking classic. Extensive work on trail resurfacing, a new bridge and bluff safety improvements will help make the experience even more memorable.'

An absolute treat for experienced intermediate mountain bikers, the Mangapurua winds through Whanganui National Park taking in long-abandoned farms, native forest, dramatic bluffs and deep ravines before reaching the Bridge to Nowhere – a graceful monument to early settlers’ broken dreams. The jet boat trip downriver to Pīpīriki is an invigorating way to end the ride. Keep an eye on the Mountain to Sea website for the latest trail conditions and official opening date.

Mountains to Sea Ngā Ara Tūhono trail manager Lynley Twyman inspecting the Mangapurua Track (Lee Slater).

Hot summer events on the Great Rides

Summer Sizzler – Waikato River Trails (7 January 2023)

Launch into the New Year with this awesome summer running and walking event on the Waikato River Trails . Choose one of three events (22km/11km/6km), and wind beside New Zealand’s mightiest river through grassy farmland, reserves, along boardwalks and across the 70m Mangakino suspension bridge. Fun for all the family! Find out more and sign up here.

Family fun on the Waikato River Trails' Summer Sizzler.

Sounds to Sounds bikepacking brevet (start dates March 01–10, 2023)

There are still a few spaces available on the latest bikepacking brevet from the Kennett Brothers – a 1500km adventure from the Marlborough Sounds to Milford Sound taking in some of the country's best scenery and three Great Rides! It's not a race, complete it between five and 20 days – no more no less! Find out more and enter here.

Get inspired with the Sounds to Sounds coffee-table book, packed with fabulous photos and inspiring stories from this year's inaugural event. If you miss out on entry, there's alway the following year, and the route can also be ridden independently. The Sounds to Sounds Official Guide will help keep you on track.

Bikepacking inspiration from Bronwen Wall and Jonathan Kennett (Kennett Brothers).

Kōpiko Aotearoa bikepacking brevet (start dates January 21–22, 2023)

Love hills, cycling camaraderie and spectacular scenery? This epic bikepacking brevet, along some of the North Island's best cycle routes through remote hill country between East Cape in Tairāwhiti and Cape Egmont in Taranaki, could be for you. The 1070km event, designed by the Kennett Brothers, is super-scenic, 'technically' easy but very arduous with over 17,000m of climbing. Ride it in 4 to 14 days.

Sign up here, or find out more and get training for 2024!

Not far from Cape Egmont now! The epic Kōpiko Aotearoa (Jonathan Kennett).

Tour Aotearoa bikepacking brevet (start dates February 15–18, 2023)

This 3000km odyssey is one of the world’s greatest bikepacking trips. An epic, self-supported brevet stretching the length of New Zealand, the Tour Aotearoa takes in many of the country’s top trails, including nine Great Rides and 11 Heartland Rides, linked with other memorable cycle routes. Riders have between 10 and 30 days to finish.

Sign up here, or found out more and get training for 2024! 

Whizzing along Ninety Mile Beach on the Tour Aotearoa (Jonathan Kennett).

If you're keen to get into bikepacking but not sure where to start, check out the dedicated Bikepacking New Zealand section on our website.

Events calendar

Keep an eye on our regularly updated Events Calendar for all upcoming events on Ngā Haerenga Great Rides of New Zealand.

Ride a vintage train on Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail

While this Great Ride creates an alternative route at the Bay of Islands end of the trail, you'll be able to hop aboard a vintage train (with bikes) to bridge the gap. Running in time for the summer school holidays, and for only a gold coin donation, folk can catch the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway from Kawakawa to Te AkeAke, then cycle the pretty 3.5km ride beside the estuary to Opua.

Find out more about Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail here.  

All aboard the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway!

New artwork on the Waikato River Trail

A great new sign is almost ready for installation beside Lake Whakamaru on the Waikato River Trails. Watch this fascinating time-lapse video of the sign being laser-cut.

Plan your Waikato River Trails adventures here.

New Waikato River Trails sign – with pīwakawaka/fantail – ready for installation.

Hawke's Bay Trails turn 10 in style

Congratulations to the Hawke's Bay Trails who have just celebrated their 10th birthday! This 200km network of wonderfully cruisy trails is the best way to explore the Bay's bountiful attractions. This Great Ride just gets better and better with recent work on the stopbanks in Taradale on the Puketapu Loop providing super-smooth riding and resilience against floods and rising river levels.

Get some inspiration for buzz around the Hawke's Bay Trails in our new e-biking story.

Happy 10th Birthday Hawke's Bay Trails!

Coppermine Trail open for business

Despite significant damage during the Nelson storms and floods in August, the Coppermine Trail is open to mountain bikers and walkers. One of New Zealand’s most accessible alpine mountain bike adventures is made all the more memorable for its relatively easy up, exhilarating down, amazing rocky tops, sweet-smelling beech forest, and meandering river trail. It also has the bonus of starting and finishing in Nelson City making it one of the country's most satisfying day rides.

The section between Four Corners and Third House is closed due to slips, with a detour along the Brook Waimārama Sanctuary fence line, and there's also a detour in place for the pipeline section along the Maitai Valley Road between the Maitai Dam and Nelson City. The descent from Coppermine Saddle to Maitai is rough, with loose rocks and boulders and is recommended for intermediate to advanced riders. Trail improvements along this section of trail will take place once other priority works have been completed. It's a rocky ride, but still a great one.

Plan your Coppermine ride here and get the latest track updates.

Views for miles from the Coppermine Saddle (Virginia Woolf Photography).

Share your Coppermine or Tasman's Great Taste Trail feedback and be in to win

If you've ridden the Coppermine Trail or Tasman's Great Taste Trail recently, complete a survey and go in the draw to win one of three fantastic prizes (worth over $1300) donated by these Great Rides' official partners. Vouchers for super cycle tours, wine, food and craft beer are up for grabs! Find out more here.

The Baton Valley bridge – an awesome addition to Tasman's Great Taste Trail (Chocolate Dog Studio).

Complete surveys on any of the 23 Great Rides here and be in to win Kennett Brothers' cycling books.

New Alps 2 Ocean website

The Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, has launched a new website – it's easy to use with all you need to plan your adventures on New Zealand's longest Great Ride, including great maps and the latest trail conditions.

Check it out here.

The A2O's new website includes great maps for all nine sections.

All aboard – including e-bikes – to Taumarunui and the Timber Trail!

It's full steam ahead to the centre of the North Island! Great Journeys New Zealand's Northern Explorer train journey is now stopping at Taumarunui, giving riders a super-scenic, lower-carbon option for getting to the Timber Trail. Sweet wee 'Taumarunui on the old trunk line' is the gateway town to the Great Ride, reached using local shuttles or biking the Timber Trail Connection cycle route. 

KiwiRail's Tracey Goodall is thrilled about this new service and the visitor packages Great Journeys New Zealand and Visit Ruapehu have been developing, 'Our packages are about getting domestic and international travellers off the beaten track and out into the regions to really experience what New Zealand has to offer'. Find out more about the Northern Explorer and the latest deals and packages here.

Ruapehu District Mayor Weston Kirton steps off the Northern Explorer at Taumarunui (Great Journeys New Zealand).

In another brilliant development, up to four bikes, including E-bikes, can now be taken on Great Journeys New Zealand's scenic trains: the TranzAlpine, Coastal Pacific and Northern Explorer. Places must be booked in advance and Ts n Cs apply; or you can, of course, hire a bike from one of the Great Rides official partners – easy!  

NZ SuperGold members Australian Seniors Card holders are eligible for a 10% discount on train journeys – just check the appropriate box when you book online (more info here).

More funding announced to keep the Great Rides great

The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) has announced an investment of almost $1 million dollars for maintenance on the Great Rides to keep them in ship-shape for domestic riders and the impending influx of overseas tourists. The money will be spent on resurfacing of trails, interpretation panels and safety signage, trail repairs to Great Rides following adverse weather events, and for trail manager salaries.

David Talbot, Manager, MBIE Investment Management and Performance says: 'This funding will directly contribute to the tourism recovery in the regions, supporting local jobs and businesses. Cycle trails are valuable components of our national tourism offering. They are incredibly popular with both local users, domestic and international tourists.'

An evaluation of Ngā Haerenga Great Rides of New Zealand, released earlier this year, shows that cycle trail users directly contributed an estimated $950+ million to local communities, between July 1 2020 and June 30 2021.

You can read MBIE's press release here.

Kawarau Gorge Trail finally given the green light

A key piece of trail that will help link up the Deep South's Great Rides has finally been given the green light. After agreements were reached in the Environment Court, we are now a step closer to achieving the longest continuous cycle trail in the southern hemisphere and a potential off-road route all the way between Queenstown and Dunedin/Ōtepoti.

It's intended that the 35-kilometre Kawarau Gorge Trail will link the new and highly popular Lake Dunstan Trail at Bannockburn to the Queenstown Trails network at Gibbston Valley. The other Great Rides that will be linked up are the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail, Otago Central Rail Trail, Roxburgh Gorge Trail and Clutha Gold Trail.

Central Otago Queenstown Trails Network Trust chairman Stephen Jeffery was excited that work was set to resume on the Kawarau Gorge Trail, as part of the $26 million project to connect Otago's cycle trails.

'We have already seen the outstanding success of the Lake Dunstan Trail and with the added investment into new trails the future looks particularly bright for cycling tourism in Central Otago,' he said.

Read more about the new trail in the Radio New Zealand article.

The proposed Kawarau Gorge Trail route (image: LINZ).

For more spring cycling inspiration check out these blogs:

Great Rides for E-bikes

Summer deals and news from our National Partners

Hauraki Rail Trail Community Heroes

Enter our Great Rides Summer Photo Competition and be in to win a $500 Holiday Parks of New Zealand voucher.