Rotorua: Not Just For Mountain Bikers

One of Rotorua's many geothermal attractionsWith hundreds of kilometres of trails, Rotorua is often billed as a mountain bike destination. And while Whakarewarewa Forest is impressive, there are plenty more biking, cultural and geothermal reasons to visit this intriguing region.

Maori culture
With a large Maori population, Rotorua offers numerous cultural experiences, and two popular activities are concerts and hangi (meals cooked in an earth oven). Various operators offer packages, or pay a visit to Te Whakarewarewa, a living Maori village which is also home to numerous geothermal features. Most impressive of these is the Pohutu geyser, which erupts between 10 and 20 times a day. Cultural performances by one of Rotorua’s leading Kapa Haka groups take place daily at 11.15am and 2pm, and feature traditional song and dance (including the fearsome Haka).

Geothermal activity
Rotorua is part of the Taupo Volcanic Zone, a geothermal field extending from White Island off the Bay of Plenty coast to Mt Ruapehu far to the south. The geothermal features of this region are some of the most concentrated and dramatic in the world. Kuirau Park, close to town, is home to a crater lake, pools of boiling mud, and small mineral baths. Further afield, Waiotapu, (meaning Sacred Waters), offers the large, boiling Champagne Pool, craters and blowholes, colourful mineral terraces and the Lady Knox Geyser, which performs punctually at 10.15am every day.

Te Ara Ahi – Thermal by Bike
One of the best ways to discover the sights of Rotorua is by bike. Te Ara Ahi – Thermal by Bike is one of New Zealand’s Great Rides. The 48km trail takes in four significant fields: Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waikite Valley Thermal Springs. The route is easily split into one-day or half-day rides, allowing you plenty time to soak up the scenery and culture along the way.

Hot pools
Talking of soaking, Rotorua also offers some exceptional hot pools. Popular spots include the Polynesian Spa in Government Gardens, the open-air pools at Waikite Valley Thermal Pools, and Kerosene Creek, on SH5, where you can bathe for free.

You can experience Rotorua as part of a guided tour, or a self-guided tour. Alternatively, book a combined camper and bike hire, for total travel flexibility.

Have a great week,
Steve

Image: Te Puia. Robert Linsdell


Be Awed By Mother Nature’s Might While Riding the Rotorua Cycle Trails

rotorua cycle trailsSteaming mud pools, 20m high geysers, bubbling lakes ….and an insane amount of biking goodness. Yes, we’re talking about the geothermal wonderland of Rotorua. Here are the Rotorua cycle trails worth hitting up when you’re in town…

Whakarewarewa Forest and the Redwoods
Just a five minute drive from the city and home to around 130km of continually evolving trails to suit all levels of riding ability. This is one of the oldest mountain bike networks in New Zealand, with well-crafted trails, varying topography, free-draining soils (meaning great, all-year round riding) and stunning scenery. It’s also completely free to ride! Just make sure you pick up a map before you hit the trails.

Rainbow Mountain
An 11km technical loop for advanced riders only. This track runs along a section of the Te Ara Ahi trail before heading up to the summit. From the top, it’s an adrenaline-pumping, Grade 4 downhill ride. Park at Kerosene Creek car park off SH5, 25km south of Rotorua. Additional bonus? Kerosene Creek is a natural – and completely free – hot pool.

Skyline Gravity Park
An 8.5km trail network for all ability levels. The best bit? The Skyline gondola takes the hard work out of the uphill. Half-day, multi-day and season passes are available.

Te Ara Ahi – Thermal by Bike
One of New Zealand’s Great Rides, Te Ara Ahi is a 48km adventure through this region’s most intriguing geothermal scenery. The trail takes in four significant fields: Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waikite Valley Thermal Springs. Each has its own unique features, including rare flora and fauna, steaming vents, boiling mud pools and spectacular geysers.

This is also a ride that offers a fascinating insight into Maori history and folklore. Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve is located next to Te Puia – the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute – and Whakarewarewa Village, a living Maori village that has existed for over 700 years.

The trail is easily split into one-day or half-day rides, allowing you ample time to soak up the scenery and culture along the way.

Hot pools
We wouldn’t expect you to bike through a thermal area and not indulge in a bathe! Popular hot pools include the Polynesian Spa in Government Gardens, the open-air pools at Waikite Valley Thermal Pools and the aforementioned Kerosene Creek.

Intrigued to ride Rotorua? We can help you arrange bike hire and all the necessary logistics. Email us to get your geothermal adventure underway.

Have a great week,
Andrew Hunt

P.S. Crankworx, the world’s largest mountain bike festival, arrives in Rotorua 9-13 March 2016. Expect epic competitions, live entertainment and Kidsworx events.

Image: Robert Linsdell