Waikato – WRT + Te Awa

Waikato River Ride and Te Awa

Four days with Judy Yeoman and Mike Brockie, both hardened by years of international tandem touring on their trusty old mountain bikes, and Jill and I on our Bulls E-MTBs . 


Our constraint is battery life and charging stations, which took out the camping option at Jim Barnett reserve, and made day 2 longer, but the trail isn’t really set up completely yet and until it’s easier to people to stop and start at various well-fed and powered-up options, it will not be as popular as the timber trail.

Day 1 | Atiamuri – Mangakino

Wilhelmina from Blue Tui shuttles picked us up from our AirBnB dead on 8:30, flung our bikes onto the trailer with ease and care, dropped off our dinner goodies at Arapuni Backpackers for a couple of nights hence, and plonked us in the middle of nowhere at the beginning of the track after a kickstarter of muffins and coffee.  Good on yer, mate.


It’s 40k to Mangakino with a stop at the Dam Cafe at Whakamaru, and we used about 50% of the battery, more than I expected but the few hills in the middle added up. Still, we have a bigger day tomorrow so we are going to consciously use the 22 speed and less power tomorrow. It is too easy to be tempted into simply boosting the power rather than changing down a cog or two. The front derailleurs become unadjusted quite easily so I went to Adventure Cycles Monday night club and learnt how to tweak them, and now we have the use of granny gear at least 80% of the time.


Mangakino is a very tidy little town but not thriving. It deserves to do better but in the meantime the accommodation is limited to the Mangakino Hotel, currently for sale and being operated only for the rooms. Our host couldn’t be there and arranged to leave the keys at the local Four Square. However, the other guests let us in and showed us our rooms and where to store the bikes so we felt very welcome, and the clocks on the wall put us bang in the centre of the universe.


Dinner has to be on Friday or Saturday only if you want more than takeaways. Mucky’s is great,  their website advertises B&B but there’s not a B to be had, and it was packed, probably because its the only place for thousands of miles, but also serving damn fine tucker. Breakfast has to be across the road at Shorty’s, and very good it was too.

Total distance: 39.96 km
Max elevation: 266 m
Min elevation: 192 m
Total climbing: 1464 m
Total descent: -1485 m
Average speed: 13.74 km/h
Total Time: 06:46:36

Day 2 | Mangakino – Arapuni

A big breakfast is essential. From here on you carry your own until Arapuni, but not on Mondays or Tuesdays because the Rhubarb Cafe is closed then and you would have to bike on to Karapiro or even Cambridge.  That’s why we thought ahead and dropped off the saussies and wine and spuds and breakfast stuff on the way through.


We took off into rain, so I gave the GroundEffects gear a good workout, and between that and the electrics it’s a very pleasant ride. Some big steep bits followed by wide roads carpeted with pine needles, not slippery and beautifully quiet, traversing along above the river. There’s a blast of a 200m climb with about 39 switchbacks, most of them just a wee bit too tight and that’s the last of the climbing, then there’s about 20k down to Arapuni. We took the trail route from Jones Landing and there were a couple of trying moments, but  nothing too serious.


Battery use 80% + . Showing 2 bars on the display, but charging shows 1 – 2.  It would be good to have a better display with “k’s to empty” , and the ability to download data for analysis.


Total distance: 58.73 km
Max elevation: 359 m
Min elevation: 91 m
Total climbing: 2194 m
Total descent: -2269 m
Average speed: 16.78 km/h
Total Time: 08:58:13

Day 3 | Arapuni – Cambridge
Part Waikato River Trail, part Te Awa

Battery use 50% because we weren’t trying

Total distance: 44.4 km
Max elevation: 208 m
Min elevation: 54 m
Total climbing: 1084 m
Total descent: -1162 m
Average speed: 21.90 km/h
Total Time: 06:16:08

Day 4 | Ngaruawahia – Hamilton Gardens – Ngaruawahia

The Te Awa trail.   Nice commuter route, or a do once ride, just to say you have been along the Waikato as far as you can go on trails.

Battery use 80% on mine because rear tyre was a bit flat (1 atmos  – should be 1.6-1.8 at least

Jill’s 50%

Total distance: 54.86 km
Max elevation: 69 m
Min elevation: 2 m
Total climbing: 1502 m
Total descent: -1505 m
Average speed: 20.45 km/h
Total Time: 05:01:39

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