Steaming 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.
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.
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.
Have a great week,
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