Grade
Hilly
Distance
40-45km
Cycling
3-4 hours
Information for this trail was last updated May 2024

The full circuit - Back Ormond Road, Waimatā Valley Road, Mander Road, Waimanu Forest, Riverside Road, is a challenging half-day cycle ride. Back Ormond Rd, Waimata Valley Rd, and the town end of Riverside Rd are sealed, with Back Ormond Rd carrying a lot of traffic. The rest of the circuit is on unsealed roads, which carry little traffic.

Note that access through Waimanu Forest is restricted to Sundays because of forestry operations. An entry permit for cycling or walking on a Sunday should be requested from Aratu Forests Ltd. Link to Aratu Forests Ltd

An alternative to cycling the whole circuit is to cycle parts of it. A cycle along Riverside Rd, an interesting hilly ride, can link to the Matokitoki Valley trail, or to a walk in the tall native forest of Longbush QEII Covenant. This private reserve on the Waimatā River side of the road, nine kilometres along Riverside Rd from Gisborne, is open to the public. 

Another feature of this circuit is Gray's Hill Lookout, a climb of 140m from the flats if you are cycling in a clockwise direction. The lookout offers a spectacular view of Tūranganui a Kiwa and is an excellent place for star gazing on a clear night with no moon, being away from the lights of Gisborne city.

 

Back Ormond Road, Mander Road, Waimanu Forest, Riverside Road Circuit

History of the trail

Mander Road and Riverside Road follow the lower reaches of the Waimatā River fairly closely. 

Roads to the first farms followed constantly used tracks, just four feet wide, mainly along the left bank of the river. On these early roads, slips were frequent, access difficult, and roads a boggy mess in winter.

It wasn't until about 1894 that a separate road, Waimatā Valley Rd, was built to the Waimata Valley through land gifted by Gray of Waiohika. This became the preferred route to Tolaga Bay until a new road was built inland away from the coast.

See Waikereru Ecosanctuary report on Waimata River

 


 

Tips & Logistics

Back Ormond Rd is well-used as a link to SH2 Matawai Road from the Mangapapa side of Gisborne so it always carries a lot of vehicular traffic. Waimatā Valley Road is not a busy road but is used by log trucks and farm transport. Be aware of trucks as well as potholes.