Western Okataina Walkway**MTB
3km northwest of Rotorua
Grade 4 Time 3-4.5 hours Distance up to 27 km return
This adventurous trip is about as old-school as mountain biking gets. It follows vintage forestry roads, which have worn into challenging and highly scenic ride,mostly native forest . Nothing has been groomed, so the tracks is rough in places, with many challenges created by nature’s hand. Prepare for the unpredictable.
Track conditions: 70% single track, 30% forestry roads
How to get there: from the eastern outskirts of Rotorua head southeast on Tarawera Road, turn left onto Okareka Loop Road, and then left again onto Millar Road. The seal ends after 1.3km, where you will see a small car parking area on the left at rhe start of the track ( its signposted)
Route: From the small car parkng area on Millar Road, check out the signboard before heading into the forest on what was clearly once a significant road. It is easy enough to begin with(on a dry day); the odd bog and rut soon become the norm as the walkway becomes a challenging uphill single track. There are a few significant descents on the way up to a track fork, 11km from the car park. From here you have two choices. You can take the right fork to drop steeply for 4km to the end of the walkway near an education centre, which is not much fun. Instead we recommend doing what most do: ride the single track along the left forkup to the signposted trig 2.5km away for some great views and then fly back the way you rode up. There is a 35m descent before climbing up to the trig at 758m elevation.It’s a great destination withgreat views , and overall downhill ride back to your car is a lot of fun. But be aware; roots and ruts will jump out at you on the descent. The climb takes 2-3 hours to the trig and the descent back the same way takes 1-1.5 hours.
Notes: There is another car parking area 1.3km before the start of the track at the turn-off to a DOC camping ground area.The other end of the track starts from the Okataina Education Centre, but we do not recommend it as it is too steep.
Rainbow Mountain*** MTB
25 km South of Rotorua
Grade 4+ Time 1-2 hours Distance 10km
A mountain bike track has been built all the way down the side of Rainbow Mountain and it rocks. The Climb is a challenge to die for, the viewsfrom the top are unbeatable and the descentis awesome. There is even a soak in a thermal streamwaiting at the bottom. A great ride on the Focus Sam2 electric MTB.
Track conditions 100% single track, climb approx 330metres
How to get there: Head ou of Rotorua towards Taupo on Highway 5 for 25 km.There is a small car parking area beside the highway on your left. It has shelters and a mapboard.
Route: Ride under the shelter that hosts the mapboard, and up a steep climb called Te Tihi O Ruru, It mellows out a bit before reaching a left turn, where you should follow the signs to the Summit. It starts out grade 3, and becomes grade 5. You will suffer, if you try to ride the whole climb without a break.It is technical and cardiocascularly challenging beyond most mortals without a MTB E-Bike. ie like a Focus Jam2 Plus or equivalent. When you reach a gravel 4WD track, turn left and followit the 30 metres, before turning left again into a little single track that leads to the top, 100 metres away.At the top there is a trig and repeater station ( plenty to shelter behind if it windy). On a fine day the views of the region are worth every calorie you just burned. Now for the descent! The downhill is called Te Ranga Trail. It’s a grade 4 and starts just 200 metres from the top( only 10 metres down from where you met the gravel road on the way up). HOT TIP: do not ride down the step narrow track right atthe top( hopefully it’s overgrown by now). it’s too risky. The top third of Te Rangi Trail is superb hand-built track-technical and fun. The you hit the gravel for 10 metres before riding into the machine built section( it’s signposted). This section is fast and flowy with potential for some air if your willing. The trail ends at a shelter and toilet at the Te Ranga ( Kerosene Creek) car park. The hot springs are only 50metres away on a walking track.They are Free, and at times, overly popular. From there you just head right and rode the gravel road, and highway back to Rainbow Mountain car park. It is 3km away and takes 10 minutes to ride. Youcan also ride back on the Te Ara Ahi Trail if you have more time.
Notes: Best ridden when dry.
95km southeast of Rotorua
Grade 4 Time 1 day(overnight option) Distance 35km
If iconic New Zealander Barry Crump had been into mountain biking, the Moerangi track in Whirinaki Forest would have been his favourite ride. Passing through 35km of remote native forest, with three traditional tramping huts en route, It’s real iconic New Zealand experience at its best.
Track conditions: 100% single track.
Maps: NZTopo50 BG38 Wairapukao and BG39 Ruatahuna
How to get there: The track is 95km southeast of Rotorua, via Highway 5 then 38 on the way to Waiharemoana . The best option transport is to park your car to Whirinaki Forest Holidays and have them drive you to and from the road ends, which are 37km apart. This way your car will be safe. visit www.whirinakiforestholidays.co.nz for their details, for shuttle from Taupo, contact Tread Routes www.treadroutes.co.nz. Alternatively,drive or ride 30km east from Minginui Village to the end of Okahu Road ( grid reference 315 123) Okahu road is a narrow gravel road with native forest on both sides.
Route: This is one the longest continuous native forest rides in New Zealand and passes three tramping huts along the way. There is approx 1000m of climbing to do, not for the faint hearted best with an Electric MTB Bike like the Focus Sam2 E-Bike . From the end of Okahu Road, rideup the valley to Skip Hut( Whangatawhia). this will takeabout 1 hour. Overthe following 1-2 hours, the track leads you over a 700-m saddle and down to Rogers Hut ( Te Wairoa). From there, head up beside Moerangi Stream to Moerangi Hut (1-2 hours). The hut is 500 metres of the main track. Turn left,just before a big bridge. After visiting the hot and signing the hut book, go back to the main track, cross the bridge and continue climbingto a 900-m high point beside Moerangi. There is alookout/picnic area 100 metres before the highpoint. From there, it is mostly downhill to River Road.Please watch out for some deep slips! We had to walk across a couple. This is the final stage which takes 2-3 hours and ends in amazing podocarp forest, which is very popular with walkers/trampers. the track then takes you on to River Road, 7km from Minginui village.
Notes: you can ride this track fromeither direction, but if you start from Okahu Road you have less climbing and finishe with a long downhill – Wow take it easy on the track, and be prepared for trampers around any corner. No accidents please in such a remote location as mobile coverage will be minimal (may be Spark).
Whirinaki Mountain Bike Track**MTB
95km southeast of Rotorua
A mixture of old forestry roads and purpose built single MTB track
Grade 3- Time 1.5-3 hours Distance up 16km
Track conditions: 60% single track, 40% old forestry road
How to get there: this track starts from south of Minginui village.( see above Moerangi Track for directions to the village)As you approach Minginui, veer right to stay on Minginui Road, right again onto Old Te Whaiti Road,cross the river and turn left onto Old Fort Road( there’s a picnic area and mapboard at the end).
Route: There are short and long loop options, with information panels along the way. The loops are signposted in an anticlockwise direction. From the car park, follow the mountain bike signs, climbing gently into the forest. After several minutes, turn right to begin the first loop. This becomes 104 track, which comes out at Okurapoto Road. Turn left to complete the short loop or right for the longer ride back via Tangitu Track. Both options finish with a same lovely single track.
Notes: Minginui village, near the road end, has no shops or accommodation However there is accommodation and shuttle service close by at Whirinaki Forest Holiday 07 366 3235 www.whirinakiholidays.co.nz. For further accommodation in Rotorua visit www.bnblive.com The nearest shops to the track are at Murupara,35 km away.