About us

The perfect place to rest after your adventures on the Timber Trail.

Welcome to the Timber Trail Centre, a beautiful and peaceful place to relax and learn, near one of New Zealand’s greatest adventure playgrounds and many tourist attractions. The Timber Trail Centre is set amongst 3 hectares of organic fruit trees and pastureland on the edge of a stream and the trout-filled Ongarue River. The Centre has three buildings at this stage:

The Timber Miller’s Cottage

The cottage is 110 years old and is available for accommodation with:

  • five bedrooms (four will have en suite bathrooms from early 2016)
  • a communal kitchen with fridge, oven, micro-wave and electric grill
  • free WIFI laundry facilities
  • a lounge to socialise, play the guitar, watch a movie or read a book (there is no TV at the Centre)
  • an outside hot tub for 10 people

The whole Cottage can be rented for $500 per night or individual rooms for between $85 and $120, depending on numbers and time of year.

The Old Church

At 135 years old, this is the oldest building in the Central North Island region and is used for training and food production when there are large groups of students.

The Schoolhouse

This 110 year old character building is used for training and study (1,000 book library) and for recreation (pool table).

The Centre is run on a non-profit basis and has been established to provide training in two main areas:
(a) business skills for those managing businesses or who aspire to do so, (b) life-skills for low-income people, who would otherwise not be able to afford such courses. 

A wide range of both low key and more adventurous activities are available through the Centre from fishing, cycling, kayaking and skiing to painting and pottery – or just feeding the farm animals that live with us. 

The Centre is one of only two providers of accommodation and food at the end of the Timber Trail Cycle Way. The 5 bedroom Timber Miller's Cottage can be rented for $500 per night or individual rooms for between $85 and $130, depending on room, number of occupants and time of year. We provide a simple old-world environment and try to keep our charges low. For booking enquiries, please click here.

The Centre is within easy reach of most parts of the North Island (and via plane, bus or train from elsewhere) and in one of the Southern Hemisphere’s great adventure and relaxation playgrounds.

The Directors

Timber Trail Centre is run by Marty Nicholls and Sylvie Lebchek and open from the months of November to April each year. For the other half of the year they run a film production company (www.mindfulworldproductions.com) from their base in France.

Between them, Sylvie and Marty have travelled to over 80 countries and are fluent in English, French, Hindi, Urdu and a smattering of other languages.


Marty is a fifth generation kiwi, born in India to missionary parents, with training in psychology, counselling, cross-cultural communications and wine-making, and three university degrees in finance and economics. He is a Buddhist, meditates daily, plays the concert piano and loves organic gardening. Marty has worked in 40 countries around the world, in four companies (three of which he started), in Governments (NZ and Indian), in the slums of Calcutta (with Mother Teresa’s organization), as a merchant banker in London, and as a development specialist in poorer countries (focusing on micro-credit and entrepreneurship). His last major project was to develop 20 ha of vineyards in NZ and export the wine to 50 markets around the world. Marty's two current work goals are:

  • to help run the Timber Trail Centre and develop a range of courses (teaching has already commenced, but the Centre will not formally open until 2016).
  • to complete the roll-out an internet-based education programme for poor children in Africa, Asia and Latin America. This programme is putting cheap internet-connected tablets in the hands of children in slums and disadvantaged regions around the world and powerfully and cheaply enables them to educate themselves - academically, in life and in business.


Sylvie was born and raised in Normandy, France, but has spent much of her adult life in New Caledonia, Australia and New Zealand, and has pursued a love of photography in over two dozen countries around the world, with her work exhibited in many venues, including New York and the National Geographic. Apart from photography, Sylvie has worked in the natural health industry, run her own organics retail business in the French Riviera, been a chef for the Royal Family of Monaco and others, and sold organic products throughout the southern half of France.

Apart from her career as a photographer and role at the Timber Trail Centre, Sylvie is also a Director at Mindful World Productions and is currently building an extensive website on natural health solutions. Her personal interests include yoga and meditation (which she has practiced for 42 years), water colour painting, travel and natural well-being.