3-Day Bike Tour

Waikato River Trails


Embark on a self-guided cycle tour on the Waikato River Trail, and relax knowing your hardtail mountain bike hire, shuttle transfers, accommodation and meals are all covered!

Trail Sections: Atiamuri – Mangakino – Waipapa – Arapuni 

Duration

3 Days

Ages

8+

Price

From $899 per person

Activity Grade

Intermediate & Advanced
(Grades 3 & 4)


Begin your ride at Atiamuri, the southernmost point of the Waikato River Trail. This 26km section is almost always in sight of the scenic and expansive Lake Whakamaru. 

Watching over you just after the Atiamuri Dam is the stunning half-million-year-old Pohaturoa volcanic plug, a magnificent historically significant feature. 

The Waipapa section combines high quality custom-built trails through native bush, along with long flowing forestry trails. 

Arapuni village is a favourite spot for coffee and lunch, a cafe located only 400 metres from the historic Arapuni swing-bridge. This amazing structure soars over the top of a working power station built in the 1920s and is an absolute must. 

The Karāpiro section goes through native bush with short climbs and downhills to a unique wetland, where you cycle on a 500m-long boardwalk, all alongside the edge of the Waikato River and Lake Karapiro. 

The final few kilometres of trail follows open farmland and pastures before finishing at the Pokaiwhenua Bridge carpark.


Day 1 - Atiamuri to Mangakino

38km, 5 to 6 hours

After a relaxing stay at Sanctuary Lodge Maungatautari you will be transported to begin your 3 day ride at Atiamuri, the southernmost point of the Waikato River Trail. 

This 26km section is almost always in sight of the scenic and expansive Lake Whakamaru. Watching over you just after the Atiamuri Dam is the stunning half-million-year-old Pohaturoa volcanic plug, a magnificent historically significant feature.

The trail then hugs the lake through pine forests and native bush, adjacent to farmland. Across the lake sheer bluffs rise from the water to provide an amazing backdrop. 

Once you arrive at Whakamaru Dam, it is only a short ride to The Dam Café in the village for a well-deserved break and some lunch. The trail is moderately technical with some short steep areas and corners to navigate and is graded INTERMEDIATE.

After lunch it is onto the second part of the ride through to the hydro village of Mangakino. This 12km section has great views along Lake Maraetai and just before the village is the 70m long Mangakino Stream suspension bridge. The Waikato River Trails Trust has recently planted several thousand native trees along the edge of the lake on this section of trail. On reaching the picturesque Mangakino lakefront your transport will be waiting to transfer you back to Sanctuary Lodge.

Day 2 - Mangakino to Waipapa Dam

19km, 2 to 3 hours

This morning you will be transported back to Mangakino where you will pick up from yesterday’s finish point. This section is for those looking for a little adventure as there are no alternative routes off the trail once you begin.

The Waipapa section combines high quality custom-built trails through native bush, along with long flowing forestry trails. There are some steep areas giving this section its ADVANCED grading. There are historic sites at the start of this section where construction of the Maraetai Dams took place, information panels are situated in the area to share some of the stories.

The Waipapa section is more remote than others but should not be missed. You also have the option of adding a 20km ride from Waipapa Dam to the Mangarewa Suspension bridge and return. 

On completion we transport you back to the stunning Sanctuary Lodge Maungatautari for dinner and a well-earned rest.

Day 3 - Waipapa Dam to Arapuni Dam, then on to Pokaiwhenua Bridge

35km road section, 3 to 4 hours and/or 14km, 2 hours

Day 3 has two ride options.
Starting the day back at Waipapa Dam, the Arapuni section is on quiet country roads that are mostly sealed, with a short section of metal/gravel. The gradient includes some long steep climbs and is graded INTERMEDIATE. On reaching the Arapuni Dam, it is possible to ride the short but challenging section of trail to Jones Landing and return (6km), stopping at the top of a rocky bluff to enjoy a spectacular view of Lake Arapuni.

If starting your ride at Arapuni Dam, the Karāpiro section is the most popular of the entire Waikato River Trail. Rhubarb Café in Arapuni village is a favourite spot for coffee and lunch, located only 400 metres from the historic Arapuni swing-bridge. This amazing structure soars over the top of a working power station built in the 1920s and is an absolute must-visit trail.

The Karāpiro section takes a route through native bush with short climbs and downhills then on to a unique wetland and over a 500m long continuous boardwalk, all alongside the edge of the Waikato River and Lake Karāpiro. The final few kilometres of trail follows next to open farmland and pastures before finishing at the Pokaiwhenua Bridge carpark.

Options in the afternoon of Day 3 if the shorter ride is chosen:

The extra ride sections:

Waipapa Dam to the Mangarewa Suspension Bridge - 10km one way.
From the Waipapa Dam end the trail quickly hits the Tumai steps – sorry to say but this means you will need to push your bike! The reward at the top is the awesome view down to the Waikato River. 9km further along is the 80m long Mangarewa suspension bridge, 42m above the stream below. As the trail ends at the northern end of the bridge, you will need to return to Waipapa Dam.

Arapuni Dam to Jones Landing - 3km one way.
At the Arapuni Dam you can cross the road and head towards Jones Landing. This is a technical trail for riding and is more suitable for walking.  Along this journey make sure you pop up to the lookout to see over Jones Landing and Lake Arapuni below.

Package inclusions

  • All shuttle transfers over three days
  • Hardtail mountain bike hire for three days
  • Three nights of accommodation at Sanctuary Lodge Maungatautari
  • Meals: three dinners and three breakfasts
  • One packed lunch (for Day 2)

Pricing

From $899pp

Optional extras

  • e-bike upgrade $150 per person
  • Single supplement $260 per person
  • Support vehicle $349 per day
  • Sanctuary Mountain Maungatautari tour $38 per person
  • Daytime Karāpiro kayak tour $89 per person
  • Private twilight kayak glow worm tour $149 per person