Hauraki Rail Trail
The Hauraki Rail Trail is one of the Great Rides of the New Zealand Cycle Trail system, using parts of the abandoned ECMT and Thames Branch railways in the Hauraki Gulf plains and the Coromandel Peninsula.
It runs from Thames, New Zealand south via Paeroa to then branch either east towards Waihi (via the Karangahake Gorge) or south to Te Aroha. In the Karangahake Gorge, the rail trail passes through a 1,100 metres (3,609 ft) long tunnel, which has been fitted with electrical lighting.
The trail takes around three days to complete for most fitness levels. It is one of the easiest cycle trails in New Zealand and offers a diverse range of scenery, from pohutukawa trees, through lush farm land, and onto some of New Zealand's pioneering past.
Length and extensions
The trail was opened in 2012, with 95% of 69 km completed at the end of 2012, and all of the original length open from early 2013 (New Zealand Cycle Trail's official website).
In 2013 the trail was described as the most popular cycle trail in New Zealand, despite only having been open for less than a year. From January 2013 to April 2013, monthly cycle counts on the busiest section (Karangahake Gorge) averaged over 7,000 cyclists a month. The trail was particularly popular with the "baby boomer" and family clientele from Auckland and the wider Waikato, with 24% of users coming from Auckland, 15% from Hamilton, and a large proportion of users being older riders – based on a University of Waikato survey. Both local businesses and Council agree that the trail had a significant economic benefit for the region, and had already become a major promotional asset for tourism.
The new wooden bridges on the rail trail received the "Sustainability Award" in the Timber Design Awards in 2012.
- "Hauraki Rail Trail". Blue Tui Shuttles. Retrieved 4 April 2016.
- "Hauraki Rail Trail Newsletter August 2013". Hauraki Rail Trail Trust.
- "Hauraki Rail Trail". haurakirailtrail (official trail web site). Retrieved 19 August 2014.
- "Most popular trail in country". Hauraki Herald. 20 May 2013.
- "Bike trail economy booster". Hauraki Herald. 10 May 2010.
- "Sustainability Award". Construction News. October–November 2012.