The Dunes Trail - Opotiki
A gravel path rolls over the sand dunes between Opotiki and Tirohanga. The dune terrain means that this ride is hillier than others, but the surrounding views from cost to forested mountains make the extra effort worthwhile.
Distance: 7 km one way, 14 km return
Ride Time: 1.5 – 2 hours
From the northern end of St John Street in Opotiki, cross the large Pakowhai-ki-Otutaopuku Bridge and follow the 2-metre wide trail into the dunes. Navigation is fairly straightforward, although there is one obscure left-hand turn just after a carparking/picnic area.
If you feel like a picnic, aim for one of the two great lookouts, which have tables and 360 degree views. They’re about halfway along the ride. After 5 km the trail drops down to the beach, and you’ll follow an innovative sand ladder. When you reach the back of Tirohanga Beach Holiday Park look for a gap where you can ride through the park to the petrol station café for refreshments before returning the same way.
If you are keen for more exercise, the Dunes Trail does continue for another 3.3 km to Jackson Road. Most people, however, turn around at Tirohanga.
The Dunes Trail is one third of a trail tryptic called the Motu Trails. The other two, the Motu Coach Road and the Pakihi Track, are longer and tougher, but well worth it if you are up for the adventure. See www.motutrails.co.nz for more information and to make a donation to help maintain the trails.
On a fine day you can see White Island, New Zealand’s most active volcano. It’s 50 km away, but you can often see a plume of volcanic material above it. An attempt to mine the volcano was made in 1914, but ended in tragedy when a lahar killed all ten miners.
Opotiki is a small town with several cafes. Otherwise, you can find basic refreshments at the Tirohanga Beach Motor Camp, phone 07 315 7942,
Bike Hire: Motu Trails Ltd for bike hire in Opotiki, phone 07 315 5864, www.motucycletrails.com
The Warren Cole Cycleway at Whakatane provides a riverside outing with fascinating local history and great fish’n’chips.