Waikato River Trails

Each of these tracks can be ridden individually or a combination. If you are super fit you can cycle the trail as a whole (105km). Each Section offers a variety of distances and difficulty levels.

Karapiro Section

KARAPIRO TO ARAPUNI 11.5kms, 1-2 hours, Grade 2, (Easy) – From Pokaiwhenua Bridge carpark which is 4kms off State Highway 1 on Horahora Rd, follow the trail beside the road for approximately 5kms then turn right into Little Waipa Reserve.

From here you hug close to the mighty Waikato River, then along a 500m long boardwalk over the Huihuitaha wetlands eventually climbing a tree clad track to Arapuni village that sits nestled in the beautiful Waikato countryside above the river. Take the time to view the 152 metre long swing bridge that crosses the river to the Arapuni Powerhouse on the opposite bank.

Arapuni Section

ARAPUNI TO WAIPAPA 36kms, 3-4 hours, Grade 4 (Advanced) – Leave Arapuni Village heading south. There are 2 options for the beginning of this trail

The sign-posted trail leaves the road beside the toilets and car park and heads toward the river, along the tops of bluffs and down to the dam a couple of km’s from the village. Here you cross the road and ride the 2.5k track to Jones Landing.

This part of the trail is fairly steep and is for more experienced riders only, or you could chose to walk the steeper parts. This brings you to Jones landing reserve and out onto Lake Arapuni Rd. From Jones landing the trail follows 15kms of sealed roads following the blue markers to the end of Waotu Sth Rd

Alternatively you cycle about 1km south of the village and turn left onto Darby Rd following the blue markers to the end of Waotu Sth Rd approx 23kms.

Here the trail leaves the road and descends steeply via a series of switchbacks to the river below. Follow the trail through native forest and over the Mangarewa Suspension Bridge then along old logging tracks and pine forest to the Waipapa Dam which you cross to Waipapa Road and car park.

Waipapa Section

WAIPAPA TO MANGAKINO 20KMS, 2-3 hours, Grade 3 (Intermediate) – The trail follows the road heading south for a couple of kilometres along the Waipapa Dam; it then leaves the road and descends into a beautiful bush lined gully. Following the river there are a few steep inclines, then into pine plantation this trail takes you past the Maraetai Dam and on into the small township of Mangakino

Maraetai Section

MANGAKINO TO WHAKAMARU 13 kms, 1.5-2 hours, Grade 2 (Easy) – This section starts at Mangakino Recreation Reserve at the end of Lake Rd on the lake front. Heading south hugging the shores of Lake Maraetai you will have a pristine lake on one side and beautiful Waikato farmland on the other.

This trail takes you to Whakamaru Dam, here as you re-join the road you can either turn right and cycle along the path to Whakamaru Village for refreshment or turn left and after crossing the Dam begin on the Whakamaru section.

Whakamaru Section

WHAKAMARU TO ATIAMURI 13 kms, 1.5-2 hours, Grade 2 (Easy) – Directly after the Whakamaru Dam heading south the trail begins. Wind your way through a pine studded free camping area to the trail beyond. Here the trail alternates between pumice and clay and hugs so close to the river that you can hear the water lapping as you cycle along.

The trail veers close to the road at times and then back along beside the Lake. Lake Whakamaru Christian Camp is about a 1/2 way along and then there is a combination of native bush and pine forest to the car park adjacent to State Highway one at Atiamuri.