Exploring the Eastern Bay of Plenty and the Motu Trails

Here’s an absolutely fantastic set of rides we haven’t talked about yet: the Motu Trails. They’re located in the quiet, unspoiled Eastern Bay of Plenty and offer three different riding experiences. Here’s the lowdown:

Dunes Trail
An easy, 22km return ride suitable for beginners and families.
Starting from Opotiki, this trail follows the coastline to Jackson Road. It’s an easy (grade two) ride, with lovely views of the ocean, White Island and the East Cape ranges. Take your swimming togs as there are plenty of spots to access the beach along the way.

Motu Road Trail
An intermediate ride, 67km one-way.
This trail follows the first road between Gisborne and the Bay of Plenty and runs from Jackson Road to Matawai. (Connect with the Dunes Trail to start or finish your ride in Opotiki). The route can be ridden in either direction, but offers more downhill sections if you start in Matawai. It passes through remote bush and farmland and there are several steepish hills – reasonable fitness is required! At Motu, you can take a short detour to the spectacular Motu Falls.

Pakihi Track
Advanced riders only, 44km total.
When the Pakihi first opened in 1914 it was a horse track that provided a link between the town of Motu and the coast. These days it’s a wild and exhilarating mountain bike experience. The track runs one-way from Motu Road to Opotiki. The top half careens through native forest, while the bottom half follows the Pakihi River. The track is well formed, with a steady downhill gradient all the way. Free-draining soil means there’s very little mud even after heavy rain. It’s rated advanced because in places there are steep drops to the sides. From the end of the track, you can return to Opotiki via gravel road, then quiet rural road. Just before Opotiki, turn right onto Te Rere Pa road, and then follow the Otara stopbank track for 4km back to the start of the Dunes Trail.

The Loop
Combine all three rides, 91km.
To complete the full loop, start and finish in Opotiki. Set off along the Dunes Trail, which links directly with the bottom of the Motu Road Trail. From here it’s mostly uphill riding to the start of the Pakihi Track, which takes you back to Opotiki. It’s possible to ride the loop in one day, but most people take two days.

For more information on the Motu Trails, head here: