OverviewTrail Status: Open

Waihaha — Whakaipo Bay (2 days, 71km)

The stunning Great Lake Trail follows the shores of beautiful Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake, from Waihaha to Whakaipo Bay.

This trail was officially opened in April 2014 and provides 71km of all-weather riding through native forest with views across Lake Taupo to the majestic Tongariro National Park.

Riders have the option of riding the full trail over two days or choosing shorter options to suit fitness, experience and the time available. There are three sections of trail that can be ridden as standalone rides. A water taxi can ferry riders and bikes to four access points along the trail.

Taupo is an International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) Silver Level Ride Centre and the Great Lake Trail forms part of the Taupo trail network that has been awarded this recognition.


Lake Taupo’s reputation as a trout-fishing haven stretches across the globe, and this is in no small part due to its massive size.

This is the biggest lake in Australasia and is roughly the size of Singapore.

An abundance of brown and rainbow trout can be fished all year round (with a licence). But this is just one activity of the many on offer; get a feel for the immensity of Lake Taupo by kayaking, canoeing, windsurfing or sailing.

Walk or mountain bike the tracks along the shore and you’ll be rewarded with sensational views.


Views of this magnificent national park are visible along the trail. The park’s landscape and scenery range from desert to vast tussock land, mountain beech forest and wetlands.

Be Prepared

It doesn’t take long to plan. We’ve developed a guide with the NZ Mountain Safety Council to help you. Read and download the guide FREE and ensure you’re prepared for the following.

The Great Lake Trail is a Grade3 (Intermediate) cycle trail, so a reasonable level of fitness is required to ride the entire trail. Mountain bikes with front suspension are recommended.

The Great Lake Trail can be ridden in all seasons due to its volcanic pumice surface, however the track can be slippery in places when wet. Knobbly mountain bike tyres are advisable at all times of the year.

There can be a cold wind blowing off the mountains, even in summer, and parts of the Great Lake Trail are exposed and remote, so be prepared.

MOBILE PHONE COVERAGE: Mobile phone coverage is available along some of the trail but not all of it.

DRINKING WATER: Carry enough drinking water for the entire trip

Weather Info

Despite the fact that Taupo has a moderate climate this area can be cold, especially in comparison to other areas in the North Island.

During the summer months, daytime temperatures range from 11 ̊ C to 25 ̊ C. During the winter, daytime temperatures range from 3 ̊ C to 12 ̊ C, with severe frosts.


Northern Lake  Taupo

Distance -15-73km Time 2 hours-2 days Grade 3 ( Intermediate)

With stunning lookouts and beautiful bays for swimming or picknicking, this track is simply the best land-based way to explore the northern half of Lake Taupo.

From Taupo township, theadventure begins with a short drive to one of three trailheads. Choosetobike one, two, or all three stages of the Great Lakes Trail depending on how much time you have. All three provide relatively easy mountain biking through an interesting volcanic landscape of native forest, large rock outcrops and welcoming bays on the shores of New Zealand’s largest lake.

Those keen to ride the Great Lake Trail from the Western Bays Road to Taupo township need to arrange a boat to take them between two sections. The whole journey is 61km of fantastic single track plus 12km of road riding via Acacia Bay back into Taupo.

The Itinerary

Stage 1: W2K and Headloop , Kinloch

24km ( or 15km without the Headloop), 2-4 hours

This section has been open for a many years now, and it’s just got better with time! From Kinloch Domain, carefully follow the W2K marker posts through the marina and out of the village, Climb gently for about 7km onto the shoulder of Te Tuhi Point. At a signpost intersection, turn right to do the Headland Loop it is 10km long, and there are two good lookout spots of Lake Taupo on this way. When you rejoin the W2K track, turn left and fly back down to Kinloch. Alternatively, you could turn right and head down to Whakaipo Bay, but you’d have to be prepared for a long slog back or have an arranged a pick-up.

Stage 2: Whangamata Road to Kawakawa Bay and Kinloch

18km single track, plus 10km if you ride from Kinloch, 24 hours

There is no firm consenuson the best direction to ride this stage. If you love single track and hate road riding, then ride it there and back from Kinloch or arrange a shuttle. We made it a loop trip by road riding from Kinloch to the start of the track 30 minutes away.

From Kinloch, follow the road you drove in on back to Whangamata Road  that’s 2.6km, but you could take the Whangamata Track instead( you find it as you head out of town, 200 metres down Lisland Drive). At Whangamata Road, turn left and ride 8km to a car park and shelter on your left. There is a squeeze barrier to negotiate, and then it’s 10km of sweet single track down to Kawakawa Bay. Apart from a couple of off-camber corners, it is just a perfect grade-3 trail. From Kawakawa Bay, the Bike Taupo pixies have upgraded an old tramping track to Kinloch, re-routing everything that was too steep. Its now an easy 3-km climb to a magnificant rocky lookout follows by a sweeping downhill ride. The single track for this stage totals 18kms and there a numerous good stopping points en route.

Stage 3: Western Bays Road to Waihora Bay

31 Kms, 3-6 hours

From Taupo, drive 54kms to Waihaha River Bridge on Western Bays Road. (close to Waihora Bay, Lake Taupo)  The track starts from the car park at the southern end of the bridge. Ride towards the lake before waving north through bush to Waihora Bay ( where Kotukutuku Stream joins the Taupo Lake) That is 31 kms of awesome single track. There is rest area, shelter and toilets at the bay.

Hopefully you’ve arranged for a water taxi to take you from Waihora Bay to Kawakawa Bay as the track ends here. Otherwise it’s a long way back to the road (31kms).

Fact File

Overview. At first, It’s not obvious how to tackle the Great Lake Trail. As its is marketed as one track, but in fact it’s three distinct sections. It likely the track will be extended.

How to get there: For Stage 1 and 2, it’s easist to drive to Kinloch Village 22kms from Taupo. Kinloch Domain has good parking toilets and cafe/store on the lake front. To do all three stages or even 1 and 2 sequentially , arrange a shuttle with Tread Routes or Great Lakes Shuttle below.

Boat transport can be arranged to and from Taupo with Chris Jolly Outdoors.

Riding surface 100% pumice single track

Special features: Lake Taupo is one of the largest volcanic lakes in the world. It is a popular holiday destination for boating, climbing, Biking Hiking Sky diving, Jet boating and Skiing close to Tongoriro National Park ( in winter).

Maps Waterproof maps for $3 from Top Gear Cycles in Tamamutu st. Taupo

Trail website  www.biketaupo.org.nz

From www.biketaupo website:  Bike Taupō’s MTB tracks are well renown and accredited by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) as a Silver Ride Centre, the first in NZ. This confirms our MTB tracks are world class. Most tracks can be ridden year round as the free draining pumice soil surface means that even in wet weather there is normally little or no mud.

We are proud to have built the Great Lake Trail, part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail (NZCT) network. The 71 kilometre trail flows through native forest, following the western shore of beautiful Lake Taupō and offering stunning views across to Tongariro National Park, a dual World Heritage area. Riders will have the option of riding the full trail over 2 – 3 days or opt for a range of shorter rides depending on their level of experience and the time available.

Support Services!

Taupo there is plenty of accommodation in Taupo “the adventure capital of the North Island”  Book at www.bnblive.com (opening 1.04.2018) or at  www.greatlaketaupo.com also for shops including bike shops.

E-Bike/Cycle Rentals (E-Bikes specialists) ph 0800 400 900  Book at  www.sportx.nz or contact us at https://ebikemtbtoursnz.com/contact-page/

Taupo Bike Shops Top Gear Cycles19 Tamamutu St  ph 07-377 0552 Bike Barn Taupo cnr Horomatngi and Ruapehu St  07-378 7381

Tread Routes for transport  and guides 07 377 8319 or  027 446 2408 www.treadroutes.co.nz

Great Lake Shuttle (Taupo to start of the trail) 021 656 424  www.greatlakesshuttles.co.nz (approx $40 Bike from Whakaipo Bay to Whangamata Road).

Adventure Shuttles to trails around  Taupo  www.adventureshuttles.co.nz or 022 547 0399

Chris Jolly Outdoors can take 14 people and 11 bikes to the bays on the trail. cost approx $75/ person from Waihora Bay to Kawakawa Bay  07-378 0632 www.chrisjolly.co.nz

Kinloch: General Store ,cafe and a small range of accommodation options  www.kinloch.org.nz

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