Grade
Hilly
Distance
108 km
Cycling
1 - 2 days
Information for this trail was last updated July 2024

Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails has named Tiniroto Road - Frasertown Road as a new connector ride - the Gisborne/Tūranga to Wairoa Heartland Ride.

This new ride connects Gisborne/Tūranga and the Rere Falls Trail to Wairoa and Hawke's Bay with this rural adventure ride of more than 100km, climbing to a maximum altitude of 434m.

From Gisborne, at the Pātūtahi side of Gentle Annie Hill, Tiniroto Road wraps around Gentle Annie Reserve, in the upper catchment of Te Aroha Stream. The reserve includes a hill slope of native bush. A small picnic area under big old gum trees has long since been abandoned and left unmaintained. The Farm Forestry Assn planted many trees in the reserve as an Arbor Day project in the 1980s. Now-mature liquidambar and red oak trees lining the roadside brighten autumn days as do cherry trees along the roadside in spring. The Gentle Annie Summit, elevation 360m, offers panoramic views of Tūranganui a Kiwa and Gisborne. 

Tiniroto Road has re-opened for local rural and freight traffic, and cycling, after being closed at the Hangaroa Bluffs from August 2023 - June 2024. The road at this location, suffered significant damage during Cyclone Gabrielle and further weather events - 1.5km of road was undermined with river protection works destroyed. The two-lane road was scoured away to less than one lane in parts and a geotechnical report identified extreme risk of rockfall.  

You will need to carry enough food for this cycle tour because both the Waerenga-o-Kurī store and the Tiniroto Tavern are closed. Doneraille Park, a popular picnicking, camping, swimming and fishing area on the Hangaroa River has been closed to the public since Cyclone Gabrielle when the Ruakaka Road bridge over the river was destroyed. However, there are many quiet picnic spots beside the Hangaroa River and excellent trout fishing in the river next to the road. Another attraction is the Hackfalls Arboretum on Berry Road, a side road off Ruakaka Road, Tiniroto.

At Te Rēinga, 10km south of Tiniroto, the Hangaroa River joins the Ruakituri River, and together become the Wairoa River. Where the rivers join, the Wairoa River drops in a spectacular waterfall, Te Rēinga Falls. To view the top, where the water tumbles over the falls, follow a 5-minute walking track from the carpark just across the new Te Rēinga bridge. The adventurous can follow a rough scrambling path from the lookout to near the bottom of the waterfall. Take care, the rocks on the way down can be slippery. 

Options for home stay accommodation along the route, or nearby, include - 

  • Hackfalls Arboretum farmstay cottage. Kirsty Playle offers cooked meals if requested in advance. Hackfalls Arboretum accommodation 
  • Mahaanui Farmstay Experience, located along Ruakaka Road, offers three private, unique accommodation options.
  • A little further off the cycle trail, Ruakituri Cabin is situated beside the Ruakituri River. Turn off Tiniroto Road on to Ruakituri Road at Te Rēinga and travel 20km to the Papuni Road turn off. Then, follow Papuni Road for a further 6km, to reach Ngapakira Road and Ruakituri Cabin

The cycle trail continues along Tiniroto Road, following the Wairoa River, passes Whakapūnake Maunga, and takes you to Frasertown (Te Kapu), then continues along Frasertown Road to Wairoa. Frasertown was established as a military settlement in the 1860s. It has an historic cemetery, a tavern, store and takeaways. Wairoa in Māori means 'long water'. This attractive town straddles the Wairoa River and has a rich culture and heritage, which is shared with visitors through the Wairoa i-site.

 

History of the trail

Forging a coach road between Gisborne and Wairoa was challenging for the settlers in the late 1880s. In 1901, Parikanapa Road connected Gisborne to Wairoa but the road over Parikanapa mountain was so steep and tortuous that calls were made to abandon this as a main road. The alternative, following what seemed like the natural route, was planned to be via Hangaroa. Although the Hangaroa River Bluffs section presented a major obstacle, this became the main road from Gisborne to Wairoa via Tiniroto. The Gisborne to Wairoa road via Morere also presented many challenges but was used by coach traffic from the early 1900s.

You will cycle through the small settlement of Waerenga-o-Kurī on Tiniroto Road. Before Waerenga-o-Kurī became a European settlement, it was a traditional meeting place for the coastal and inland hapū (sub-tribes). It was a trading place for food like crayfish, fish, paua, kūmara, eels, kererū (native pigeons), weka and mutton birds, since there was plentiful food here. Living Heritage, Waerengaokurī School

Waerenga-o-Kurī was established as a farming settlement in the late 1800s. The first hotel was built in 1887; the first school, 1879. The first Waerenga-o-Kurī hall was built in the Hangaroa district in 1913. It was moved to the Waerenga-o-Kurī district in 1927. In 1901, Waerenga-o-Kurī had a post and telegraph office and was noted as a health resort, owing to its elevation at 344m.

Tiniroto is the other small settlement on Tiniroto Road. The first settlers came to Tiniroto in 1868 when the land was covered with bush. The name Tiniroto was coined by surveyor and ethnologist Stephenson Percy Smith in response to the many lakes in the vicinity that originate from landslides thousands of years ago, but the name contravenes the rule of Māori grammar, which normally places the adjective (in this case tini:many) after the noun (roto:lake). The largest lake lies close to the village.

At Te Rēinga, the story is told of Hine-kōrako, a female taniwha who married a local man. After being insulted by his people, she went to live under Te Rēinga Falls. One day, when the Wairoa River was in flood, a canoe carrying local people was being swept towards the falls. In desperation a kaumātua (elder) called out to her, and she rescued those on board. (From Te Ara, The Encyclopeadia of New Zealand.)

Tips & Logistics

This new Ngā Haerenga NZ Cycle Heartland Trail connects with the Rere Falls Trail. Begin cycling along the Waipaoa River Coastal Trail section of the Rere Falls Trail, as you leave from Gisborne, then after crossing the Matawhero bridge over Waipaoa River, take the second exit from the roundabout, which is Tiniroto Road.

Tiniroto Road is considered an alternative route to State Highway 2 (Wharerata Road). A major project to make this road resilient is expected to be completed within three to five years. Rock scaling to remove overhanging rock outcrops and help reduce rock falls was completed in May and June 2024. Gisborne District Council will monitor rockfall and rainfall at the bluffs and may close the road at short notice.