Waikato River Trails FAQ’s

Q: If I am going to do the whole Waikato River Trail which way should I go? South to North, or North to South?
A: There is no right answer to this one. There are ups and down whichever way you go, either way is fantastic however the 15km Arapuni on-road section is uphill coming from Arapuni village (heading north to south).  The Trails are a genuine two-way trail, so there is plenty of room for everyone going either way.

Q: Are dogs allowed on the Waikato River Trails?
A: The Trust has a policy of NO DOGS on the Trails.  The reason for this policy is to respect private landowners who are often farming next to the Trails.

Q: How long will the entire journey take me if I do the 100km journey?
A: For most cyclists, 3-4 days and walkers 5-7 days.

Q: Is the Trail suitable for my children?
A: Sections of the Trail are suitable for children of all ages.  These are the KarapiroMaraetai & parts of the Whakamaru Sections.  Other sections; WaipapaArapuni are more suited for older teenagers.

It is recommended that children are closely supervised as:

  • Many parts of the trail are close to the Waikato River.
  • There are a number of steep parts of the Trail where inexperienced cyclists  can get up too much speed.
  • Some sections of Trail are quite remote; for instance the Mangakino to Waipapa Dam (Waipapa Section) and Waipapa Dam to Waotu South Road (part of the Arapuni Section). Once in these areas you are committed to returning or moving forward  to the section end. Tired children (or adults may find this challenging).
  • There are two suspension bridges 70 and 80 metres long on the Trail, some children may find these frightening.  These are in the ArapuniMaraetai Sections.
  • There are several staircases along the trail (within the Arapuni section) that if cycling would require you to carry your children’s bicycles.  The Ongaroto bluff staircase along the Whakamaru Section has the option of travelling alongside the road as an alternative.

Q: Is there mobile phone coverage on the Waikato River Trails?
A: Mobile phone coverage is available on approximately 40% of the Trails. There is better coverage on the Karapiro, Whakamaru and Maraetai sections, with Maraetai having the best coverage. The coverage on Arapuni and Waipapa sections is more limited.


Q: Where can I hire bikes, arrange transport and book accommodation for my Waikato cycling experience?
A: Contact Waikato River Trails here for more information, you can book a shuttle online by clicking here.


Q: What happens if I have an accident on the Trail?
A: Along the Trail are numerous Blue Directional Markers. Over 40 of these markers have information on them to help in the case of an accident. Each marker has a unique number and GPS co-ordinates. The markers also indicate the likely quality of cell phone service. In the case of an accident requiring emergency service response call 111 and describe the information on the closest marker to you. Emergency services have detailed maps and instructions to locate each of the labelled markers.

Q: Can I get lost on the Waikato River Trails?
A: Yes you can. Please follow the blue directional markers positioned along the Trails. Take particular care in forestry blocks to follow the markers.


Q: Where can I find the nearest bike shop?
A: The two bike shops closest to the Waikato River Trails are:
  • Dolmans Cycles and Mowers, Bridge Street, Tokoroa, phone 07 886 8864
  • South Waikato Cycles and Lawncare, 231 Rosebury Street, Tokoroa, phone 07 886 9299


Q: Are there particular hazards on the Trails to be aware of?
A: Yes.

  • Through heavy rainfall and day-to-day hydro operations, the lakes are subject to flooding, be aware that the lake levels can rise quickly
  • On a number of Trails adjacent to the lakes, there are steep drops, keep as close to the inside as possible
  • Parents and caregivers must supervise children at all times. It's recommended that children are positioned between adults at all times.

 Click here to view the Waikato River Trails interactive map for more information on the locations of the various cycling and tramping trails in Waikato.