4-Day Ride the Waikato

Te Awa River Ride & the Waikato River Trail

Embark on a breathtaking journey through the heart of the Waikato with our 4-day self-guided package. Ride two iconic trails, the Waikato River Trail and Te Awa River Ride, immersing yourself in the region's stunning landscapes. Cycle along the picturesque Waikato River, exploring lush forests, tranquil lakes, and charming towns and villages along the way.

2 days on the Te Awa and 2 days on the Waikato River Trail 


4 Days




From $719.00 per person

Activity Grade

(Grades 2-4)

Day 1 kicks off in Atiamuri, where you'll pedal your way through the picturesque Waikato River Trail to Mangakino, taking in breathtaking scenery along the way.

On Day 2, continue your journey from Mangakino to Arapuni, immersing yourself in the natural beauty and cultural heritage of the region.

On Days 3 and 4, explore the tranquil beauty of the Te Awa River Ride, winding your way from Ngaruawahia to Tamahere and finally to Lake Karapiro.

With seamless logistics and comfortable accommodations provided throughout, these 2 unforgettable rides promise an adventure of a lifetime.

Day 1 - Atiamuri to Mangakino

38km, 5 to 6 hours

Meet at Riverside Adventures base (396 Horahora Road, Piarere) where you can leave your car and be transported to begin your 2 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 level 3 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. Stay at one of our wonderful Lodges or Bed & Breakfast options in Mangakino. We recommend the Citizens Club for a hearty meal after your first day of adventure (check opening hours/days). 

Day 2 - Mangakino to Riverside Adventures Base

Mangakino to Waipapa Dam - 19km, 2 to 3 hours
Waipapa Dam to Arapuni (40min shuttle)
Arapuni to Riverside Adventures Base - 12kms, 1 - 2 hours

This morning you will bike from Mangakino to the Waipapa Dam. 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. 

The Arapuni section from Mangarewa Suspension Bridge to Waotu South Road is now permanently closed. There is now an on road section from Waipapa Dam to Arapuni Dam which is mostly sealed with a short section of unsealed road. The gradient includes some long steep climbs. 

We will transport you from the Waipapa Dam to the Arapuni Dam to start the final ride. The Karāpiro section is the most popular of the entire Waikato River Trail. Rhubarb Café (check opening days/hours) 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 on the 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.

There is a 300m section of road from the Pokaiwhenua Bridge back to our base and your vehicle.

Congratulations, you have completed the Waikato River Trail!    

Day  3- Ngāruawahia to Tamahere

33.5km, 3 - 4 hours

Starting at the Riverside Adventures Cambridge base of the Grassroots Trust Velodrome where we take a scenic drive to the northern end of the Te Awa River Ride.

Ngaruawahia is the beginning of your journey! You’ll start opposite the significant Turangawaewae marae, home of the Maori King and wind your way along the mighty Waikato River for most of the way to Hamilton!

Highlights include Perry Bridge, Durham precinct (for coffee and snacks!), the fortified Mangaharakeke Paa site, St Andrews Golf Club, Hamilton Central to the world famous, Hamilton Gardens.

You’ll be met by your driver at Punnett Cafe in Tamahere who will take you back to your vehicle at the Grassroots Velodrome.

Day 4 - Tamahere to Lake Karāpiro

44km, 3 - 4 hours

The morning starts with provided breakfast either at your accommodation or The Bikery Cafe at the Grassroots Velodrome before the shuttle driver collects you and your bikes and takes you back to where you finished Day 1 in Tamahere.

River views, boardwalks, bridges, picnic stops all meet you as you make your way through to Lake Karapiro.

Make time to stop at Podium Café at the lake for the best café views in Cambridge, or in summer you can’t go past the Karapiro Berry Box on Maungatautari Rd for a real fruit ice-cream.

Your shuttle driver will meet you at Lake Karapiro to take you back to your vehicle at the Grassroots Velodrome.

Congratulations, you have just completed the Te Awa River Ride!

Add an extra day - Activity Time

After you have enjoyed a breakfast and checked out of your accommodation you and you have some time to explore more, see below some of the options you can choose from.

Activity Options;

Package inclusions

  • All shuttle and luggage transfers over 4 days

  • 1x night accommodation in Mangakino, 2 x nights in Cambridge

  • PLB hire

  • Meals: 3 x breakfast


From $719.00pp

Optional extras

  • Single supplement POA

  • Pre or post tour accommodation

  • Pannier Hire

  • E-bike/bike hire

  • Twilight kayak glow worm tour