IntroductionThe Pakihi Track is a stunning but challenging 20 km journey through lush forest for trampers and mountain bikers.
The cycling direction is one-way only, starting from Motu Road. For walking or running, you can go both ways, with most doing an out-and-back trip.
There is a hut 9.3 km from Pakihi Road end, and a shelter 6.5 km Pakihi Road end.
There are sections of the track where you will be need to dismount and either walk or carry your bike. Take extreme caution at the following locations:
- GR 950 655 - Approx 900-m from Motu Rd track entry point
- GR 934 656 – Between 4-km and 5-km markers
- GR 914 655 – Approx 300-m above Pakihi Hut
- GR 914 660 – Approx 200-m below Pakihi Hut
- GR 901 679 – Between Bridges 18 and 19
Motu Road to Pakihi Hut (10 km)
For cyclists, the start of the Pakihi Track is from the Motu Road, at close to 600 m altitude. There is a small shelter and a car-parking area. The top half of the track is a steady descent, dropping over 400 m to the Pakihi Hut.
From the Motu Road to the hut, you cross 12 wooden bridges. It is thickly forested with trees including tawa, tōtara, rimu and rewarewa, however there are regular glimpses of far ridges. About 5 km in there are several 1.5 m wide cuttings across ridgetops. It’s impressive to think that these would have been dug by hand, over a century ago.
There are two side-tracks down to the Pakihi Hut and the stream. They’re close together and clearly signed.
Pakihi Hut to Pakihi road end (9 km)
Beyond the Pakihi Hut, the next few km are the most technical for riding, and the most liable to rock falls. Take care. A km after the hut you reach the Pakihi stream suspension bridge, a spectacular 32-m structure that spans a pretty gorge. On both banks, look for the remains of the abutments of the original bridge, built 1913/14 and wrecked in a massive storm in 1918.
The lower half of the track is stunning, following the Pakihi stream all the way. You may see wild trout and birds including New Zealand falcon/kārearea, North Island robin, New Zealand woodpigeon/kererū and North Island weka. There are numerous small waterways, many falling in waterfalls. In rain, the music and thunder of water is everywhere.
At the end of the track, there is a shelter, car park and toilet. Over the stream, Weka Wilds offers accommodation. Not far away in the Te Waiti Valley, there’s the Boulders Campsite. If you’re arranging to be picked up, it’s 23 km and a 30-minute drive from here to Ōpōtiki.
Hunters, walkers and trail runners often start from the Pakihi road end, going up and back. A popular walk is from the Pakihi road to the Motu Road junction, then turn around and head to Pakihi Hut for the night. This gives you a day of 30 km, with a 10 km walk out on the second day.
To drop cyclists off to ride the Pakihi: From Opotiki it’s most common to drive up the Waioeka Gorge SH2 and turn off at Matawai. Drive to the top of the hill above Motu, almost 800 m altitude. This is the shuttle drop-off point. From here, it’s a 9 km ride down the Motu Road to the top of the Pakihi.
What to expect
The Pakihi Track is an advanced mountain bike ride in difficult terrain. The track is narrow in places, with near-vertical drop-offs to the side. It needs to be treated with respect and ridden with real care. If you aren’t sure you have the experience to ride it safely, then walking is a good alternative.
Track conditions on the Pakihi Track change often, depending on the weather. There are regular rockfalls and fallen trees. You will encounter:
- during rain: landslides (small and large), falling rocks and sections of the track slipping
- during rain or wind: trees falling over the track
- during hot/dry weather: piles of gravel on the track.
Because of this, it is best to save this track for good weather and avoid it during storms.
Fallen rocks on Pakihi Track
Image: Motu Trails Charitable Trust
Fallen trees on Pakihi Track
Image: Motu Trails Charitable Trust
How to plan and prepare
Before you go:
- check the Motu Trails website for information about the current track conditions
- you can also contact email@example.com for track updates.
Be prepared for your ride with warm clothes, a repair kit and a distress beacon.
Learn more about backcountry mountain biking (including suggested packing lists) on the Mountain Safety Council website.