Spectacular new trail for Opotiki

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If you’ve enjoyed Ōpōtiki’s Dunes Trail, there’s good reason to return for more.

Story + Photos Jim Robinson

Over the last 10 years, Ōpōtiki has become known as the northern gateway to the Motu Trails – with the Dunes Trail starting from the outskirts of town and heading east along the Pacific coast. Now, the eastern Bay of Plenty town is building on the success of the Motu Trails (Dunes Trail, Pakihi Track, Motu Road) by adding to the cycling and walking trail options on offer.

Highlight of the new development is a coastal trail that will extend west from Ōpō-tiki to Te Ahiaua/the Pipi Beds, which is just over the hill from Ōhiwa harbour. This trail is not finished yet, but at the time of writ-ing (November 25, 2021) is well underway, and when complete (fingers crossed – March 2022) will offer close to 10km distance, linking straight onto the Dunes Trail.

For about 2.5km, the new gravel trail will run parallel with State Highway 2 (SH2), but most of the way it flows along the sand dunes, well away from the road. It’s only slightly undulating so meets grade 2/easy standards. As with the Dunes Trail, the beach sections have sensational views – sweeping 180 degree Pacific Ocean panoramas with Whakaari (White Island) and Moutohorā (Whale island) on the far horizon. There are multiple access points from the highway.

 

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At the western end, Te Ahiaua/the Pipi Beds offers a large grassy area, car parking/park-over, shelter, picnic tables and toilets, making for a handy mid-ride or mid-walk rest.

Back in Ōpōtiki, the new trail is already in place and in use, routed between the town and the Ōtara and Waioeka rivers – to link the Dunes Trail with the SH2 bridge on the western side of town. The trail is a mix of gravel and two-metre-wide concrete. The highway bridge (built in 1927 and 300m long) has a footpath, and on both sides concrete underpass ramps were recently added to seamlessly link with the trail.

One hundred metres from Ōpōtiki town centre, a new trail gateway is under construction. This will include a parking area, shelter, and waharoa (gateway) carved by Whakatōhea iwi, and sits close to a large, brand-new concrete skate area for the youngsters. The goal of the new trail gateway is to bring visiting trail users much closer to shops and cafés than the present Motu Trails start. As elsewhere around the country, local towns and communities have invested serious effort into creating and looking after the trails – it’s not easy! – and by visiting cafés, staying in a holiday park or accommodation, and going shopping, visitors help to return value for that local input.

 

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When fully complete, including the Dunes Trail there will be about 19km of riding, with three-holiday parks on route (Island View Holiday Park, Ōpōtiki Holiday Park, Tirohanga Beach Holiday Park), and another very close by (Ōhiwa Beach Holiday Park). 

If you visit soon, do be aware that the new trail is not yet complete, for example, there’s not yet any signage.

Over the past year, around Motu Trails, there have been other great advances. The Dunes Trail has new signage and two new bench seats; Motu Road has another shelter; Pakihi Track has two new bench seats; Rere Falls Trail has new interpretation signage. 

 

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These on-trail projects have been led by Motu Trails Charitable Trust, and there are plenty more things planned. 

Story and images supplied by NZToday-RVLifestyle magazine. 

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