Frequently Asked Questions
Here are answers to some commonly-asked questions about Motu Trails. If you can't find the answer you're looking for, feel free to contact us.
In the east of the North Island of Aotearoa/New Zealand. The trails stretch between Ōpōtiki, Matawai and Gisborne, in the eastern Bay of Plenty/Tairāwhiti region (Eastland). From Tauranga and Rotorua, you can drive to Ōpōtiki in 1hr 45min, with another 75 minutes to Motu. From Gisborne, it's 75 minutes to Motu.
Between Matawai and Gisborne, in the Tairāwhiti / Eastland region of the North Island of New Zealand. Rere Falls Trail connects with the Motu Road Trail section of Motu Trails.
Download a digital version of a map or brochure from our Experience page, or get printed copies from Whakatāne, Ōpōtiki or Gisborne i-SITE visitor information centres. For the latest news, photos, and track updates check out Motu Trails on Facebook or Instagram.
You can also get in touch with us by email or Facebook and ask for printed copies to be sent to you free (NZ only).
The Dunes Trail offers 9km of family friendly, grade 2 riding (18km return). The views are spectacular and there are many access points to the beach. It is undulating the whole way. The trail is mostly compacted gravel.
There are about 10 squeeze gates along the trail to prevent motorbikes. These may mean children need to dismount to pass through. Most adults can pass through without dismounting, though with panniers or a trailer, you will have to lift the bike. If you want to take a hand bike on the trail you can contact us, firstname.lastname@example.org, for a key to the adjoining swing gates, this will require an accompanying rider to open/close gates.
The Pakihi is graded ‘advanced/grade 4’ however the track is not especially technical in mountain biking terms. The upper half, the track is about 1.5 metres wide or more. Lower down, in places, it’s 1.2 metres wide, though if there has been track damage it can sometimes be narrower.
Because the whole track is cut into steep country, there is a bank on one side and a drop-off on the other. The advanced grading reflects that some stretches have near-vertical drop-offs beside the track. The drop-offs on the upper 11km are mostly bush-clad. The lower 10km, the drop-offs are often exposed. Also, in places, the track gets continual rock and gravel debris, so there will be places with rocks and gravel on the track.
Many people, including recreational level bikers, are comfortable riding the Pakihi. Others find the drop-offs intimidating. If you are a nervous biker or unsure of your skills, it is best to enjoy the Motu Road Trail instead of the Pakihi Track. Or, you can always walk the Pakihi.
If you choose to ride the Pakihi Track, it’s important to get there in plenty of time, and walk any bits that concern you.
After a storm, there will be more gravel/rock debris and sometimes rock falls. Check the latest weather and trail conditions. Do not ride during a storm. There is no mobile phone reception. As with any back-country track, it is recommended you take a personal locator beacon, a PLB.
You can get a shuttle drop-off to Matawai, Motu village or the hilltop above Motu, and ride from there. Or, at the north end of Motu Road, you can get a drop-off to the top of Meremere Hill, and ride from there.
Your best drop-off point depends on your level of fitness and the distance you want to ride. From the hilltop above Motu, it’s almost all downhill to the start of the Pakihi Track. Whereas from Matawai, Motu, or Meremere Hill, there is 300 metres+ of climbing just to get to the track.
If you are organising your own drop-off, be aware that Motu Road can get rough, especially in winter. A 4WD is strongly advised. You may meet other traffic including forestry traffic.
For a longer ride, you can ride the Dunes Trail and up Motu Road to the top of the Pakihi. For safety, the Pakihi is downhill only. Please do not cycle up the track from the Pakihi Road end. If you are walking or running the Pakihi, the track is two-way. You can get to the Pakihi Road end (cycling exit point) by driving from Ōpōtiki down Ōtara and Pakihi roads. The track is 23km from Ōpōtiki, with 9km of gravel road, this takes about 35 minutes to drive.
It’s much harder to ride from the Ōpōtiki coast up to Motu or Matawai, than the other way. Riding from Matawai, there’s a big climb after Motu settlement, but from there on, it’s predominantly downhill. If you're not looking for the challenge, a good option is to get a shuttle drop-off to Matawai, Motu, or the hilltop above Motu, and ride to the Ōpōtiki coast. That way you'll have more downhill than uphill.
Motu Trails Ltd, Motu Trails Hire & Shuttle, and Cycle Gisborne all offer shuttle services. Minimum numbers apply.
Cycle Gisborne offers awesome guided and self-supported tours on the Motu Road, Rere Falls Trail and more.
Guided services are not available on Pakihi Track. Periodically in peak times Motu Trails Charitable Trust offers the option to join a non-paid group ride with someone who knows the track, if that interests you please get in touch.
Mobile phone coverage is patchy on the Dunes Trail. There is very little mobile phone coverage on the Motu Road and none on the Pakihi Track. This is why, on Pakihi Track and Motu Road, you should take a personal locator beacon (PLB) or similar device.
On the Dunes Trail you can take a dog, though it must be under control. Try and avoid peak periods.
On Pakihi Track, dogs need a permit. Talk to DOC on 07 307 2770.
Pakihi Track. Most people ride a mountain bike, though increasingly, skilled riders are often riding a gravel bike, especially in summer. A mountain bike is the simplest choice. Whatever the bike, wider tyres are advised, both for traction on slippery surfaces, and to avoid punctures on sharp rock. Be aware the whole track has a bank on one side, so pannier bags may prove an impediment.
Motu Road. Most people ride a mountain bike on the Motu Road Trail, though again a gravel or touring bike will be OK if you have the skills. Wider tyres are advised, the road does get rough so skinny tyres will likely puncture, also in winter the road gets soft and muddy.
Dunes trail. Most bike choices will be OK, but you do still need good tyres as the surface is mostly packed gravel and can get loose in the dry.
Rere Falls Trail. You can use any roadworthy bike for the section Gisborne-Rere, which is sealed. From Rere-Matawai, there is 27km of gravel road, so the recommended bike choice is the same as Motu Road.
On Motu Road and Rere Falls Trail, gear selection is important: these roads are very hilly. Many people ride Motu Road and Rere Falls Trail on an ebike. Make sure you have the opportunity to recharge at accommodation.
The coastal Bay of Plenty and Tairāwhiti Gisborne typically have mild weather. Inland to Motu and Matawai, and on parts of the Pakihi, the altitude of the trails varies between 300 and 750 metres, so it can get cold and misty in winter. Very occasionally it snows. However in settled weather it’s spectacular even in mid-winter.
Always be prepared with warm clothing and wet weather gear. In summer, across the region, it's common to have daytime temperatures of 18 - 25°C.
There is a lot of accommodation handy to the Dunes Trail. For Motu Road Trail, at Motu village you have the Weka Nest and Motu Community House. At the end of the Pakihi, you have Weka Wilds and, nearby, Bushaven. For Rere Falls Trail, you have Te Wera Homestead, Mokonui Farmstay, Eastwoodhill Arboretum, Naurea Homestead, and Portside Hotel. Browse the directory on our Stay page. Whenever possible please choose these operators as they are supporting the trails.
Email us at email@example.com, message us on Facebook (Motu Trails Cycleway) or report it to the Ōpōtiki i-SITE.
Thank you for supporting Motu Trails Charitable Trust, any amount helps us! You can donate to our Givealittle page, or donate straight into our account: Motu Trails Charitable Trust, 06-0637-0259896-00.
You can hire a personal locator beacon (PLB) from Ōpōtiki i-SITE or Cycle Gisborne.
Yes. You can purchase services around the trail, but the trails themselves are free to all. The trails are made available through a lot of investment and work, including a lot of volunteer work. We welcome all support. To make a donation to Motu Trails Charitable Trust, visit www.Givealittle.co.nz and search Motu Trails. Or donate straight into our account: Motu Trails Charitable Trust, 06-0637-0259896-00 Thank you.
Check the Stay page for places to stay around the trails. There are many holiday parks with areas to tent. You also have DOC campsites at Te Waiti Boulders, and Whitikau Forks. You can put up a tent by Pakihi Hut and around 5km from the track end. To put up a tent at Motu, talk to Motu Community House.
See the Services page for Motu Trails Hire & Shuttle, Motu Trails Ltd; Cycle Gisborne.
To have gear transported, talk to the accommodation provider when you book (additional charge applies).
There's a drinking fountain at Memorial Park, at the start of the Dunes Trail. Many drink from the Pakihi Valley side streams (best not drink from the main river). On Motu Road, many also drink from a small stream halfway up the northern side of Papamoa Hill, 8km before the Pakihi junction. If these don't appeal, you need to take water. On Rere Falls Trail, take water.
Out of peak periods, you may only see one or two cars per hour. However, always remember the road is open to traffic, do not cut corners! Stay left and be prepared to stop at all times. At some peak periods, there may be considerably more traffic, perhaps 10 or 15 vehicles per hour.
You may see forestry traffic. There is logging in Whitikau Valley, near the top of Pakihi Track. Log trucks are heading to Gisborne, so you may see them. Drivers are great but, please, stop and pull over for them.
You are advised to take: puncture repair and pump/cannister, basic allen key set, warm clothing, coat, food. In winter, also take gloves, hat, leggings. A personal locator beacon (PLB) and a foil emergency sleeping blanket are strongly advised for all back-country riding.
Dunes Trail. There are public toilets at Memorial Park at the centre of the playing field, and also at Hukuwai Beach 2.5km along the trail.
Motu Road. There are public toilets at Matawai and Motu. There are no other toilets on Motu Road.
Pakihi Track. There are basic toilets at Pakihi hut and at the Pakihi Road end. There is no toilet at the top of the track so if you are getting a shuttle, the toilets at Motu are your last opportunity. Take toilet paper.
Rere Falls Trail. The Matawai toilets, then there are no public toilets until Rere Falls and Rere Rockslide.