Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails

Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails include the Great Rides, Heartland Rides and some of the cycle trails in the Urban Cycling Network.

About the cycle trails

Each year more than 2 million people use the Great Rides of Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trails (NZCT).

As well as offering world-class visitor experiences that showcase some of the best landscapes and scenery that New Zealand has to offer, the trails create ongoing job opportunities and economic, recreational and health benefits for New Zealanders.

In May 2022, 2 new trails were granted Great Ride status and joined the New Zealand Cycle Trails network, increasing the number of Great Rides to 23.

  • Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest Loop trail showcases Rotorua’s world-class off-road mountain biking experience, Māori culture, geothermal features and iconic Redwoods stands, with spectacular views over Lake Rotorua and Rotokakāhi/Green Lake and Lake Tikitapu/Blue Lake. This new trail replaces the Te Ara Ahi Trail which has moved from a Great Ride to a Heartland ride.
  • Central Otago’s Lake Dunstan Trail is a 44km Grade 2 (easy) and Grade 3 (intermediate) cycle trail from Cromwell to Clyde. The trail passes through historic precincts in Cromwell and Clyde, vineyards and farmland along the shores of Lake Dunstan, showcasing iconic Central Otago landscapes. Interpretation along the route summarises the varied history of the area, ranging from a traditional route for southern Ngai Tahu iwi to access the West Coast, to gold mining, agriculture, horticulture and hydroelectricity.

Building the cycle trails

In 2009 the National Cycleway Fund received $50 million in funding from the New Zealand Government. The funds were used to create a network of cycle trails across the country — Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails.

Around $30 million of co-funding from local stakeholders was contributed towards construction of the Great Rides.

Design specifications for the Ngā Haerenga Cycle Trails are set out in the New Zealand Cycle Trail Design Guide [PDF, 11 MB]

About the network

The New Zealand Cycle Trails network is made up of the:

  • Great Rides
  • Heartland Rides, and
  • some urban cycle trails.

Great Rides

The Great Rides of the New Zealand Cycle Trail network are predominantly off-road trails. They showcase the best of New Zealand's landscapes, environment, culture and heritage. The trails are located around the country from Northland to Southland.

Government and local communities co-fund the Great Rides, which provide a healthy and enjoyable way for New Zealanders and international visitors to see the country.

Heartland Rides

Through the Network Expansion Project, a series of on-road cycle touring routes were added to the New Zealand Cycle Trails network. These are known as the Heartland and Connector Rides.

The Heartland Rides are mostly on-road routes through scenic landscapes and small towns, and the Connector Rides link the Great Rides and Heartland Rides with urban centres, transport hubs and other key tourist attractions. Heartland and Connector Rides encourage cyclists to use scenic back-country roads where they can experience heartland New Zealand.

More details on the Great Rides and Heartland Rides, including location, grading, and service providers can be found on the New Zealand Cycle Trail website.

New Zealand Cycle Trail website(external link)

Urban Cycling Network

Through its Urban Cycleway Programme, Waka Kotahi - the New Zealand Transport Agency has co-funded the building of a number of on-road and off-road cycleways. The cycleways make it easier and safer for cyclists to move through our urban centres.

Find out more about Waka Kotahi’s cycleway programme(external link) -

Positive outcomes from the project

The main aims of the New Zealand Cycle Trail project are to:

  • create jobs through the design, building and maintenance of the cycle network
  • create a high-quality tourism asset that increases New Zealand’s competitiveness as a tourism destination
  • provide ongoing job and economic development opportunities for regional economies
  • maximise opportunities for events, and a range of recreational and health benefits for New Zealanders.

A report released in April 2022 evaluating the 22 Great Rides provides compelling evidence that Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail Great Rides are delivering positive benefits for New Zealand. The report also shows an increase in usage of the trails, and that nearly a third of New Zealanders had taken part in cycle tourism in the past year, among other things.  

An independent insight-driven analysis of trends and opportunities to further develop cycle tourism and to increase its value to communities across New Zealand has been completed.

Read more about the evaluation of the New Zealand Cycle Trails 

In this section

New Zealand Cycle Trails funding

Up to $8 million is available annually for the maintenance, development and promotion of the New Zealand Cycle Trails (NZCT).

Evaluation of the New Zealand Cycle Trails

An evaluation of the 22 Great Rides of Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trails was conducted over 12 months from 1 July 2020 to 30 June 2021.

Last updated: 03 June 2022