Over the years, Rotorua has gained quite the reputation as the world’s adventure capital.
Every year, thrill-seekers and adventure enthusiasts head to Queenstown for bungy jumping, skiing, canyoneering and more. In Auckland, they’ll find the Skywalk and Sky Jump. Then there’s Rotorua, which has been gaining popularity for offering a variety of heart-pounding activities from jet boating to zorbing, sledging to luging – there’s something for everybody in this geothermal capital. Rotorua is also setting the standards for another adventure sector – mountain biking. Rotorua’s biking trails rank among the best in the world. Trails that snake through the local forests and reserves offer dips and weaves created by mountain bikers, for mountain bikers.
Here are some of the best biking trails in Rotorua and nearby:
The Whakarewarewa Forest offers a rich, verdant backdrop for bike enthusiasts, giving them an opportunity to zoom through gigantic California Redwoods, Pine, Australian Eucalyptus and native New Zealand ferns. There are several tracks available with varying degrees of difficulty. The Dipper is a 2.8 km trail that starts off from Pohaturoa Road and is accessible from Waipa Mill Carpark. This Grade 2 trail is ideal for first-time mountain bikers and families with flat flowing trails with good berms. The Tuhoto Ariki Trail is a Grade 4 that starts from the highest point in Whakerewarewa forest. It is designed as a shared path for bikers and pedestrians. The starting point is the top of Tawa Road, ending at Moerangi Rd. Hatpatu is a Grade 5 track due to off-camber benching; this is the best trail for those who love technical challenges. Other trails in the Redwoods include: Creek Track, The Lion Trail, Rude Not 2, Challenge Trail, Old Chevy, Sidewinder, Split Enz, Bitty T, Gunna Gotta, Hot X Bun, Little Red Riding Huck and more.
Skyline Gravity Bike Park – If you’re into downhill mountain biking, Skyline offers 6 different trails that start off at a height of 532 m. Before you head out on one of the Grade 2 to 5 trails, take a ride in the country’s first year-round, gondola-assisted bike lift which can take up to 4 bikes and riders per trip. The mountain bike park offers easy access to a 10.5 km trail network with varying terrain for all ability and skill levels. The pump track is perfect for a scenic ride while the Ten Fifty One is a steep technical rider’s dream.
Te Ara Ahi – How about a relaxing bike ride through the CBD instead? Experience a unique bike adventure through geothermal features, bubbling mudpools and amazing geysers with this National Cycle Trail. The entire track stretches from Rotorua trail heads to the Waikite Valley. In between, you’ll go through four geothermal sites: Whakarewarewa Thermal Valley, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waikete Valley Thermal Springs. You will also be passing through Te Puia (Maori Arts & Crafts Centre), Hemo Gorge, Lake Okaro and Rainbow Mountain.
Te Tihi o Ruru – This 2.5km summit track challenges the strongest bikers with an uphill ride to 743 meters up Maungakakaramea – making it a Grade 4 track. At the summit, you’ll have a stunning 360-degree view of the region. To access this, start on the Te Ara Ahi Cycle Trail from the carpark on SH 5 or at Kerosene Creek (Te Ranga). Ride uphill to the summit and descend on Te Ranga (downhill mountain bike track).
Western Okataina Walkway (WOW) – Enjoy an exhilarating downhill ride with amazing views of Rotorua’s lakes in this shared use track that weaves through a scenic reserve for 16.5 km. This is a Grade 3 track that can be ridden both ways. The trail is an old logging road with varying tracks – from the wide and well-formed to the rutted and rocky sections. It has 12.5km of undulating sections with a 560m climb. This is accessible via Okina Road, Millar Road and Lake Okareka.
Takorangi Trail – Built in 2012 with permission from the local Iwi, Ngati Whakaue, this trail has 180 degree berms, jumps, pumps, rolls and a drop into the scenic reserve. It has a total length of 2.1 km and is a Grade 3 track. It starts at the high point on the Corridor, near Rick’s Seat and drifts down the northern slope.
Whirinaki Forest Track – This purpose-built track is for the low to medium fitness level biker. The grade 2 track is 16 km and weaves through the spectacular Whirinaki forest. Whirinaki Te Pua-a-Tāne Conservation Park is 90 km southeast of Rotorua. The track is located at the end of old Fort Road.
Moerangi Mountain Bike Track – This dual-purpose track is used by trampers and bikers. It is for intermediate grade biking (Grade 3) with a sustained hill section for 150m near Whangatawihia Stream and another for 300m headed to Moerangi Stream. You’ll find three huts along the 35m track: Skips, Rogers and Moerangi. The trail has undulating descents, bridges to cross, fast and flowing descents, undulating climbs, steep pinches, exposed sections with large drop offs and stunning views.
42nd Traverse – Bike through a World Heritage site at the Tongariro National Park in this 46 km multi-use track. It is known as one of the most challenging mountain bike tracks in the North Island. It gets its name from the original “State Forest 42”, an old logging road. Experienced riders will enjoy the rugged terrain with an overall descent of 520 meters. It starts at the junction of Kapoors Road and State Highway 47. It is important to note that the track covers some remote sub-alpine areas with variable weather conditions. This track does offer amazing views of the volcanic plateau including Ngarahoe, Ruapehu and Tongariro mountains and goes through native forests and the awesome Canyon Valley.