Ancient Forests Await On The Timber Trail

Ancient Forests Await On The Timber TrailOnce upon a time, over three-quarters of New Zealand was covered in forest. Today that number stands at less than a quarter. European settlement brought deforestation on a mass scale: Huge tracts of forest were cleared for farming and houses, and timber exports became a major industry for the country.

By the 1970’s, the environmental movement had begun to take action. In Pureora Forest Park on the North Island, environmentalists climbed high into the canopy to protest against further logging. Eventually the government responded by preserving the remaining indigenous blocks.
Today, Pureora Forest Park is home to the Timber Trail – one of the 23 rides that make up Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail. To travel this route is to experience both sides of New Zealand’s timber heritage: ancient podocarp forests of soaring rimu, totara, miro, matai and kahikatea; and a glimpse of the industry that nearly brought it all crashing down.
Stretching from Pureora Village in the north to Ongarue in the south, remnants of the region’s timber heritage feature frequently along the 85km trail. At Ongarue, the trail follows the contours of an old bush tramway, once used to haul felled trees to the sawmill. Winding through picturesque natural bush, the tramway passes numerous cuttings, embankments, stream crossings, cliff ledges and tumbledown huts. Particularly impressive is the Ongarue spiral, an engineering marvel made up of a lower-level bridge, a very deep cutting, a curved tunnel, and an over-bridge. 
New marvels constructed especially for the trail include eight suspension bridges, built to span the many streams and river gorges of this mountainous region. The Maramataha suspension bridge claims one of the longest (141 metre) and highest (45 metre) single-spans in the country. 
With reasonable fitness, the Timber Trail can be ridden in two days. It’s recommended that you set out from the northern end at Pureora Village and head south, since this will save a lot of arduous climbing. You’ll find two accommodation options at the half-way point of Piropiro Flats: a scenic DOC campsite, or the newly-built Black Fern Lodge. You can also choose to ride shorter sections of the trail, or venture deeper in the forest where numerous advanced mountain bike trails await.

If you fancy riding the Timber Trail, we can help organise bike hire. Check out options here, or send us an email.

Have a good week,