Coming to Rotorua to play on your bike? Great! Let’s make a plan.
Choose the best seasonWe’re often asked when it’s best to come riding in Rotorua. Two words: any time!
Rotorua is 100% a year-round riding destination. It can be slightly cold in winter but when the sun’s peeping out at you even just a little bit, that’s your indication it’s a perfect day for blat on the bike!
There’s no need for the latest riding gear. Just dress for the season and your personal comfort. Go with easy-to-remove layers that you can stuff into your backpack or camelback once you’re warmed up. Don’t be fooled or feel awkward by the locals wearing shorts no matter the conditions – we all do our own thing around here and nobody bats an eye.
Rain can happen any time, but don’t let that put you off. The volcanic dirt gold we’re blessed with is quick to drain, so even after a good drenching, the trails are rideable.
Pick your trailsFirstly, download the Bible of all trail apps that is the Trailforks app for an excellent map of the trails in our forests. There’s heaps of helpful info for every individual trail, such as the grade, length, description, whether they’re suitable for electric mountain bikes, and more.
Here you’ll also see the most up-to-date info in regards to trail condition, any closures or detours, or other details you need to be aware of, as Whakarewarewa is a working forest, after all. We highly recommend reviewing the app or website before every ride, and riders must obey signage at all times.
Beginners welcome!Veteran mountain bikers LOVE to see new riders giving it a go and hope you’ll absolutely fall in love with the sport like the thousands of riders before them.
Make your way to the Waipa carpark off State Highway 5 to the mountain bike hub entrance at Whakarewarewa Forest. Park here, then saddle up and start with the Kid’s Loop track. Yes, we’re serious! It’s a great, gentle warm up to get you comfortable and shake off the first-ride jitters. From here, follow Creek Track and finish with Dipper. This hour-long (plus breaks, if needed) loop consists of Grade 1 and 2 trails, and is sure to have you grinning like crazy when you return, hungry for more.
A must-ride is the network’s newest trail – and New Zealand’s newest Great Ride – Whakarewarewa Forest Loop. The Loop is the first of its kind in that it’s comprised of 33kms of ups and downs, runs, flats, berms and hairpins which also takes advantage of beautiful views from various purpose-built look-out points.
This one is mostly a Grade 2 ride. There are a couple Grade 3 sections, which are walkable if they look a bit beyond your skill or confidence level (please don’t be a hero!).
It is a one-way trail, but be aware it intersects other trails so keep an eye out for other riders, trail dogs and even walkers. E-bikes might make it easier to keep up with your super-fit friends on the uphill bits, leaving you with enough energy at the end of the ride to enjoy a cold drink at the local pub afterwards.
The trail takes anywhere between 3 and 5 hours, depending on your pace and how often you stop (for the views, of course!). If you need to cut your ride short, you can exit via other trails to get back to your starting point (just check the map to ensure they’re appropriate for your skill level, or you could end up with a harder route and regrets).
We know that you know some of the biggest and best professional downhill mountain biking races are held in our forest. #IYKYK
If you’re keen to head straight to the hardest and most technical trails Whakarewarewa has to offer, Head to 8 Mile Gate to nab a seat on the Mountain Bike Rotorua (MBR) to shuttle to the top. Once at the top, head for Tuhoto Ariki, then on to Black Diamond-rated Hatu Patu, followed by a climb up to Kung Fu Walrus. From up here, it’s about 1.4km – all downhill. Get your pedal on to make it back to the shuttle and do it all again! Trails range from Grades 4 to 5 with the loop generally taking under 2 hours.
There are so many other trails – more than 200 km’s worth – so, study the Trailforks map, talk to locals, and make a plan. There’s no reason for you to go home well rested!
Fun without your bike
If you need to give your legs a break, there are plenty of other things to do and see in New Zealand’s original tourism destination.
Be sure to visit one of our famous geothermal attractions – Te Puia, Waimangu Volcanic Valley (pictured above), or Wai-o-Tapu Thermal Wonderland which re-opens on 22 October – allowing at least a couple of hours for these uniquely Rotorua experiences. Or go for a steamy soak to soothe any achy bits in one of the many hot pools.
If you’re up for more adventure activities, zipline through an ancient forest with Rotorua Canopy Tours, or gain a different vantage point of Kaituna River, famous for it's 7-metre-tall Tutea Falls, with Rotorua Ziplines.
Scream and laugh your way down the side of Mt Ngongotahā via luge at Skyline Rotorua or via giant inflatable ball at ZORB. Drive a full-race go kart at Off Road NZ or raft over the world’s tallest commercially rafted waterfall.
See our famous Whakarewarewa Forest from a different vantage point with Redwoods Treewalk.
Whether you choose to enjoy Rotorua on a bike or another way, or a combination of both, you’re going to love it!