1. Pukorokoro Miranda
When on the first leg of the Hauraki Rail Trail between Kaiaua and Thames, don’t miss Miranda! Otherwise known as the Shorebird Coast, it’s a terrific place to watch wading birds in the Firth of Thames. Stop by the Pukorokoro Miranda Shorebird Centre for spectacular bird watching, or, if your muscles are aching already, go and relax at the Miranda Hot Springs. Find out more about these attractions in our5 Fun Things to Do in Ngatea.
Location: Around 10km into the ride from Kaiaua.
A popular starting point for most on the Hauraki Rail Trail, Thames is the gateway to the Coromandel Peninsula. The town is rich in history with heritage buildings decorating the streets. Learn more about the history at the Thames School of Mines Museum, or enjoy more of the great outdoors along the Thames Coastal Walkway. If you have more time here, make a special trip to the Kauaeranga Valley for some epic hiking trails, such as the Pinnacles Walk, or even canyoning. Find out more about these activities and more in7 Best Things to Do in Thames.
Location: 55km from Kaiaua.
From Thames, head south toward your next vibrant town, Paeroa. After getting an obligatory photo with the giant L&P bottle, commemorating the birthplace of New Zealand’s very own soft drink, make yourway to the stunning Karangahake Gorge. This river gorge combines majestic scenery with old mining machinery, tunnels and bridges. You’ll also see signs for Bullswool Farm Park – a working farm attraction with a golf and kauri museum, sheep shed displays and a native bird reserve. Find out more in5 Fun Things to Do in Paeroa.
Location: 34km from Thames
Once through Karangahake Gorge, the mining journey continues in the town of Waihi. See the remains of theWaikino Victoria Battery on your way into Waihi, which used to crush more than 800 tonnes of gold-bearing stone per day. Once in Waihi, don’t miss the opportunity to wander around the impressive Martha Mine Pit with a walkway spanning around the 4km perimeter. If you have more time, you could see the spectacular coast at Waihi Beach. Find out more in10 Wonderful Things to Do in Waihi.
Location: 24km from Paeroa
5. Te Aroha
Another section of the Hauraki Rail Trail from Paeroa takes riders to the historic spa town of Te Aroha. The town sits at the bottom of Mt Te Aroha, which is worth hiking up to enjoy incredible views over the Waikato region. Or do the complete opposite of hiking by relaxing in the Te Aroha Mineral Spas. Get more inspiration on what to do here in 6 Fun Things to Do in Te Aroha.
Location: 23km from Paeroa
The final leg of the Hauraki Trail leads to where, ironically, Hobbit adventures begin, at Hobbiton! Ok, so there’s more to do in Matamata than to visit the Lord of the Rings movie set, as we explain in11 Things to Do in Matamata (That Doesn’t Involve Hobbits). For instance, make the side trip before entering Matamata to Wairere Falls, the North Island’s highest waterfall, or visit the museum and gardens of the Firth Tower.
Location: 37km from Te Aroha