Rere Falls Trail

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At a glanceWEKA Jim 175121

  • New Zealand Cycle Trail 'Heartland Ride' linking to Motu Trails
  • Grade: intermediate/3
  • Roads that are open to traffic but mostly quiet, with 25km+ of gravel road
  • Time to ride: from five hours to three days
  • Start options: Gisborne, Matawhero, Eastwoodhill Arboretum, Te Wera road, Matawai, Motu
  • Guided and self-guided tours available.
  • Mobile coverage is patchy, you are advised to take basic tools and safety gear
  • There are no shops between Ngatapa and Matawai.

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www elevation Rere

The Rere Falls Trail takes you between Gisborne and Matawai, where you connect with Motu Trails. This is an impressive ride through heartland New Zealand, featuring Eastwoodhill Arboretum, Rere Falls, Rere Rockslide, and Gisborne vineyards. This ride is mapped on the Great Rides App.

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Rere Falls Trail is all on-road. You can ride a mountain bike, cyclo-cross bike, or touring bike with robust tyres. Many sections, such as between Gisborne and Eastwoodhill, you can 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, a great place to stay is Portside Hotel, they're a Motu Trails official partner and in the heart of the town.

You ride through Gisborne and then across the Tairawhiti plains, home to quality vineyards and wineries.

About 35km from Gisborne, Eastwoodhill Arboretum 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 is a popular place to stay. They offer catering for groups on arrangement. 

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Riding on, you pass the scenic Rere Falls, and 2km further, Rere Rockslide, where you can slide down a 60m-long natural slope (free of charge but you need something to slide on and are responsible for your own safety).

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The road is sealed all the way from Gisborne to Eastwoodhill and Rere Rockslide. Above the rockslide comes the longest hill of the journey, Wharekopae (riding from Matawai direction, it's a big descent). This is over 4km long, and gravel. It tops out at close to 500m altitude, with great views.

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From Wharekopae to Matawai, a 40km distance, you’re riding over rolling high country, mostly sheep farmland but also through pockets of forest. Both directions, there are some solid climbs 1-2km long. All up, there is over 25km of gravel road on Rere Falls Trail. Seal resumes about 15km from Matawai.

From Te Wera road end to Matawai, 7km distance, take care as this is State Highway 2. Ride single file.

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By linking Rere Falls Trail with the Motu Road Trail, you can create a stunning 180km (approx) 'Coast to Coast' ride, Gisborne-Opotiki. It is a brilliant crossing, with some sections very little changed in 100 years.

An option is to add Whakarau Road, near Motu, to create a big on-road loop. Whakarau road is 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.


Accommodation close to the trail

Portside Hotel, Gisborne

Eastwoodhill Arboretum

Motu Community House (on Motu Road Trail)



Eastwoodhill Arboretum was born out of the inspiration of 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 trees and shrubs from New Zealand and England.

As the Cold War years brought the threat of widespread nuclear devastation, Cook looked to the preservation of species by planting more northern hemisphere trees. Today, with climate change, the threats have shifted, but the benefit 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.

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Further reading

RV magazine article

New Zealand Cycle Trail page

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Be Set Free