The trail takes in 42 bridges, including eight suspension bridges, as it winds its way through giant rimu, totara and kahikatea trees. The longest suspension bridge on the trail is the 141-metre-long Maramataha Bridge, which crosses the Maramataha River near the site of a historic viaduct.
The area was once home to a booming logging industry and much of the trail follows the Ellis & Burnand Ongarue Tramway, which operated between 1922 and 1958. The tramway is the longest bush tramway in New Zealand and a highlight of the journey is the Ongarue Spiral. The spiral was built to reduce the tramway’s gradient, enabling trains to climb through otherwise impassable terrain.
The Timber Trail can be cycled in either direction, but north to south is the easier option as it is predominantly downhill. The 40km stretch from Pureora to the basic Piropiro campground is Grade 3 (Intermediate) and best suited to intermediate level riders, while the 45km southern section between Piropiro campground and Ongarue is Grade 2 (Easy) and suitable for beginners. The entire trail can be completed in one to three days.
Guided tours and shuttle services are available. Timber Trail riders can camp at the Department of Conservation’s basic Piropiro Campsite near the halfway point and there are a variety of accommodation options near each end of the Timber Trail.
The Timber Trail Highlights
- Ride through ancient native forest, abundant in birdlife
- Follow New Zealand’s longest bush tramway and see the marvel of engineering that is the Ongarue Spiral
- Travel over 42 bridges – eight of them suspension bridges
- Experience a slice of New Zealand’s forestry history
The Timber Trail Sections
- Pureora to Piropiro, 40km, Grade 3 (Intermediate)
- Piropiro to Ongarue, 45km, Grade 2 (Easy)