Dunes Trail — Motu Rd Trail — Pakihi Track — Motu Trails Loop (1-3 days, 11-91km)

The Motu Trails have it all, as riders are set free with awesome riding along stunning beaches and through native forest.

With three trails to choose from (or the option of combining them all) the Motu Trails offer a range of cycling itineraries depending on your age, fitness level and riding ability.

You can ride for a few hours or a few days, with trails ranging from an easy ride along the coast through to an advanced mountain bike ride deep in the bush. The Motu Trails also link to the Rere Falls Trail from Matawai to Gisborne.

The Dunes Trail is an easy gravel path running parallel with the coastline of the Bay of Plenty for 10km. It’s ideal for all riders and there is a shop next to the Tirohanga Beach Motor Camp selling ice creams and drinks – just the ticket for a beautiful summer’s day!

The Motu Road Trail goes from the end of the Dunes Trail to the rustic settlement of Matawai, 67km away. It follows a quiet country road past scenic farmland and through forested conservation reserves. There’s a solid 3km climb after the settlement of Motu that requires reasonable fitness, but the views over Motu Valley are worth it.

The Pakihi Track is the third trail in the Motu trilogy, and although it is mostly downhill it includes Grade 4 (Advanced) mountain biking on a narrow trail through remote native forest.

The 91km Loop Ride offers you a taste of all three of the Motu Trails, starting and ending your ride in Opotiki.


Opotiki is at the confluence of two rivers and several long, safe, sandy beaches are nearby. Steep hills, fast rivers, and dramatic coastlines surround the town, creating opportunities for adventure and exploration. Down the coast from the town a collection of bays provide good snorkelling and deep sea fishing. Opotiki’s beach culture, new BMX pump track at Memorial Park and sunny climate are attractive features, but its real character is revealed in the artwork on the main street and joyful murals covering walls all over town.


Take a 5km detour from Motu to visit the beautiful Motu Falls on the wild Motu River. From the swing bridge over the river en route look out for grand old miro and rata. Birdlife is abundant here, from fantails and North Island Weka to Kereru and Kaka.

Be Prepared

It doesn’t take long to plan. We’ve developed a guide with the NZ Mountain Safety Council to help you. Read and download the guide FREE and ensure you’re prepared for the following.

The Motu Trails traverse a remote area of New Zealand. If you’re planning a long ride you’ll need to go well prepared.

Toilets are available at the Hikuwai Reserve on the Dunes Trail, Matawai, Motu and at the start and end of the Pakihi Track.

All roads are open to the public so expect vehicles at any time. Take care crossing fords after heavy rain. There are two fords on the Motu Road Trail. The Motu Road Trail requires a reasonable level of fitness.

The Pakihi Track is well formed, and with 25 bridges, the gradient is almost all gentle downhill, dropping over 400m altitude over 21km. The track is rated advanced because in places, there are steep drop-offs to the side. A mountainbike is advised.

The full 91 km Motu Trails Loop of the Dunes Trail-Motu Road-Pakihi Track takes most riders 6-9 hours, in one or two days. Toatoa Farmstay or for the adventurous, the Pahiki Hut, are good options to stay. There are no shops beyond Opotiki and Tirohanga. Another option is to link in the heartland ride of Rere Falls Trail to create a stunning two-five day Coast to Coast adventure from Gisborne to Opotiki (or vice-versa).

All trails are signposted. You can get a trail map at Gisborne, Opotiki and Whakatane iSITES. Motu Trails Official Partners also have the trail map. Or you can download a trail brochure from motutrails.co.nz.

MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE: Coverage is very poor if not unavailable on most of the trails. You can get coverage on the Dunes Trail and coming back into town on the Pakihi Track.

DRINKING WATER: It’s recommended that you carry all your water. Tank water is available at Motu and water can be drawn from the river and streams along the route, however it is recommended that this be boiled (for 3 minutes), filtered or treated before drinking.

Weather Info

Take enough layers. The Motu Road Trail peaks at almost 800m altitude, and the start of the Pakihi Track is 600m altitude. At that height, it can get cool.

The Motu Trails offer you year-round riding. The Dunes Trail especially is warmed by the coastal Eastern Bay of Plenty environment. The upper sections of the Pakihi Track and Motu Road Trail can be cool in winter, but the riding surface is firm with little mud.

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