Rere Falls Trail
Rere Falls Trail
- Time 1-3 days
- Distance 100kms
Riding the Rere Falls Trail from Gisborne to Matawai also allows you to link to the Motu Trails Great Ride. Because the Rere Falls Trail is all on-road, you can ride a mountain bike, gravel bike, or touring bike with robust tyres. Many sections, such as between Gisborne and Eastwoodhill, you can even ride on a road bike.
You can ride Rere Falls Trail in either direction. The following describes a ride starting from Gisborne and finishing at Matawai.
In Gisborne, we recommend staying at the Portside Hotel, a Motu Trails official partner located in the heart of the town; or at nearby Naurea Homestead at Patutahi. Both are superb.
The trail takes you first across the Tairāwhiti plains, passing top-notch vineyards and wineries. About 35 kilometres from Gisborne, you’ll reach Eastwoodhill Arboretum. This special place is worth making time for. It is the National Arboretum of New Zealand and has a stunning display of exotic and native trees across 135 hectares, with many kilometres of walking trail. Eastwoodhill has accommodation and is a popular place to stay. It offers catering for groups on arrangement.
Riding on, be sure to pause at the spectacular Rere Falls (free entry). Two kilometres further, is Rere Rockslide, where there's a roadside shelter. People of all ages visit Rere Rockslide for the thrill of sliding down the slick 60m-long natural rock slope. The rockslide is free of charge but you are responsible for your own safety, and you will also need something to slide on (commonly used items are lilos, bodyboards or large inner tubes – on a bike, you may need a friend to meet you there with these items).
Just inland from the rockslide, there’s another great place to stay overnight, Mokonui Farmstay, with a cosy cottage and great home-cooked meals.
Six kilometres inland from the rockslide, the seal ends and the gravel road begins. You will also begin the longest hill climb of the Rere Falls Trail journey, Wharekopae Hill (when riding from Matawai direction, it's a big descent). The hill is more than 4 kilometres long and tops out at over 500 metres in altitude. The farmland views are impressive.
From here to Matawai is about 40 kilometres, mostly high-country farmland but also pockets of forest. Whichever direction you are riding, you will have several climbs of 1-2 kilometres in length.
A great place to stay on this section is Te Wera Homestead. This welcoming and comfortable farm-stay is on Te Wera Station, 20km from Matawai. Te Wera Homestead is near the junction with Rakaroa Road.
Altogether there are 27 kilometres of gravel road on Rere Falls Trail. Seal resumes on Te Wera Road, 7 kilometres from the junction with State Highway 2, where there is a shelter. From there, it's another 7 kilometres to Matawai. Take care as this road can be busy and is narrow. Please ride single file.
Cycle Gisborne offers excellent guided and self-guided tours on Rere Falls Trail. There are tours to suit most fitness levels, from a few hours to multi-day experiences.
Most of the roads on the Rere Falls Trail date back to about 1910-1930, before the current SH2 route existed. They accessed farming settlements. The combination of gravelled and sealed roads wind over the rolling high country, which is mostly farmland dotted with sheep, but you’ll also ride through pockets of native bush.
One of the highlights is the Eastwoodhill Arboretum. This incredible park was created by Douglas Cook, who first settled in the Ngatapa Valley in 1910. Following WWI, Cook acquired a large area of land by ballot. He set about planting the largely bare land with myriad trees and shrubs from New Zealand and England.
As the Cold War years (from 1947) brought the threat of widespread nuclear devastation, Cook looked to the preservation of species by planting more and more northern hemisphere trees. Today, with climate change, the threats have shifted, but the benefit of Eastwoodhill to tree species around the world is the same.
In 1965, Bill Williams purchased the property. A decade later, Williams established the land as a trust, effectively gifting Eastwoodhill to all New Zealanders. Today, Eastwoodhill Arboretum is recognized as one of the most significant arboretums in the world.
- By linking Rere Falls Trail with the Motu Road Trail, you can create a stunning 180km (approx) 'Coast to Coast' ride, from Gisborne to Ōpōtiki. It is a spectacular crossing, with some sections very little changed in 100 years.
- One option is to create a big loop by adding Whakarau Road, which runs from near Motu down towards Gisborne, then 12km of SH2 and Lavenham Road to Patutahi. Whakarau Road is mostly gravel and very hilly.
- Excellent guided and self-guided tours are available with Cycle Gisborne. These tours suit all fitness levels and range from just a few kilometres all the way to multi-day experiences.
- Mobile coverage is patchy. You are advised to take basic tools and safety gear.
- There are no shops between Ngatapa and Matawai (any of the accommodation providers can provide meals on arrangement).
- Always remember, you’re on a public road. You will see other vehicles at times. On gravel, it is sensible to pull over and let the vehicle pass.