The central North Island is a huge mass of forestry, rugged landscapes and beautiful bush. An ideal place so easy to get lost in. The Timber Trail and the Lodge are gems of the cycle trail network, providing a touch of luxury between some of the best riding in the North Island. I’d even claim the Trail to be the best two-day ride in the North Island!
As our clients ride more and more trails around the country, it seems only inevitable that we partner with one of the best operators and as such are happy to share this gem with you. Once again, be prepared to book early and be flexible in order to get an overnight stay in. We recently caught up with Bruce from the Timber Trail Lodge to find out more about this amazing location!
How long has the Timber Trail Lodge been around, and how long have you been involved?
“We opened the lodge in early 2017, so we’ve had 2 full seasons plus one that was cut a bit short by the pandemic. However, we are back on track now, and it’s obvious people are keener than ever to get out on their bikes.”
What is the room configuration of the Lodge and how do you staff it for the high season?
“We have 20 rooms, half with ensuites and half with shared bathroom facilities. We provide full service which means there’s fresh linen on the beds, hot showers and great meals including dinner, breakfast and a trail lunch (all included in the price), plus a licensed bar. During peak season we employ 6-8 full time staff at the lodge, who mostly live onsite, plus a bunch of drivers and bike mechanics who work in our shuttle business.”
What shuttle services can I access and what do I do if I want a bike?
“We can take care of everything including shuttles, bike hire, luggage transfers. We provide secure parking at our shuttle base at the southern end of the trail. The trail is best ridden north to south, unless you prefer riding uphill. We recommend people drive to the shuttle base and leave their vehicle there.”
Tell us about the Timber Trail and where are the highlights? How is the history incorporated into the biking experience?
“The Timber Trail is 84 km long and runs north to south through Pureora Forest Park, which is west of Lake Taupo. The history of the area makes it extra special. This is an important area for Maori, as a source of food and a meeting place where iwi from Waikato, Whanganui and Taupo often overlapped. The Waikato, Whanganui and Mokau Rivers all have sources in Pureora Forest. During European times it became one of the most important sources of native timber. It is reckoned that a significant proportion of Auckland houses were built from the Matai, Rimu and Totora from Pureora. Then in the 1970s and 80s Pureora became famous for the anti-native logging protests where protestors chained themselves high in the podocarps. Luckily for us they were successful and today Pureora has the most significant remnants of North Island podocarp forest, and a variety of important conservation projects including the largest population of Kokako. The trail itself is a lovely piece of work. There are several bike and pedestrian only suspension bridges (the longest is 144m long). Much of the trail follows old logging tram routes so has a lovely gradient. The trail has excellent interpretive signage right along its 84km length.”
What role does the Lodge play in the local community?
“We take pride in being good citizens. We employ locals as much as possible, and engage in local activities whenever we can. The TT has been a real boost to the local economy of the King Country, particularly for small towns such as Te Kuiti, Benneydale, Ongarue and Taumarunui.”
Ok, I admit it, as a South Islander, I don’t know where the Lodge/Timber Trail is situated!! Can you help me?
“Coming from the South you head for Mt Ruapehu, and head off SH1 via Oakune and National Park. We’re about an hour north of National Park. If you are coming from the North head down to Hamilton, take SH3 to Te Kuiti, and we’re an hour further south. Basically we’re in the middle of nowhere!”