Day 1-2: Meet in Rotorua, Transit to the Whakarewrewa Forest, home not only to huge spans of California Coastal Redwoods. Ride smooth and flowy trails for two days followed by overnight at the Rotorua Redwoods House.
Day 5-6: Crossover New Zealand’s highest suspension bridge and experience the world’s only rideable railway spiral: a remnant of New Zealand’s logging pioneers. Closing out miles of trail we overnight at National Park Lodge, at the foot of 9177-ft Mt Ruapehu (North Island’s highest peak). Finally, drop in on the “Great Lake Trail”. Return to Rotorua.
DAY 7: After Breakfast return to Auckland.
Our North Island/Timber Trail trip can be deconstructed in a very economical two words: sui generis. Defined as one of a kind, its own class, in a category of its own.
New Zealand’s North Island physically distills Hawaii and Switzerland. Good beer and friendly inclinations. Amazing plants and 1000-year old trees. Geysers and plunging waterfalls, the flightless Kiwi bird, some of the world’s last prehistoric rainforest. And: upwards of 50-80 million sheep spread across a landscape the size of Colorado.
Our six days on North Island go deep into complex and wildly diverse ecosystems. Here in the Southern Hemisphere, beyond the belt of haze so tragically prevalent in the Northern Hemisphere we’re meet with 40% greater visibility (on average). Those enhanced senses will serve us well. At Huka Falls, tucked into our trail across Pureora Forest, it’s as much the sight as the wall of sound that captivates: 58,117-gallons of pearl blue water thundering over a cliff face every second.
On the Timber Trail, the narrative becomes something of a wilderness in transition: we ride over bygone bulldozer and timber roads given a revitalizing, low impact repurposing: now designated for thru-hikers and mountain bikers. The visual punctuation comes of finding an abandoned tractor neatly sealed away by towering old growth trees. Mother Earth’s keepsake.
Each day the trails dissolve into forest so dense and exotic, the undergrowth so rich in moss and exuberant chartreuse fern you can’t help but feel as if you were in Middle Earth. In a real sense, the steaming craters and boiling mud-pools we find on one trail lend a portal to that very realm.