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Mountain bike trail lowdown: Find your perfect match

Got the kids in tow? On a mission to see breath-taking views? Or keen to get some serious exercise?  With over 130km of single track mountain bike trails and hundreds of kilometres of walking tracks, there’s a plethora of options in Rotorua to choose from. Let us help you pick the right spot:


The inspiration: Front pack – tick; runner bike – tick; nappy bags, snacks, water… tick. Yep, you’re ready. With kids of varying ages strapped to you or sprinting ahead, you need the right trail for the mammoth effort to even get to the entrance! (Plus a spot for a fluffy and coffee afterwards.)

The trail: Mokopuna Trail – This easy hard-packed gravel track is designed specifically for families and at 3.6km is a decent walk, although there are many exit points to shorten it if the kids have a tantrum or run out of steam. With #Rotorocks hidden throughout, you can keep the little ones entertained as they search for painted rocks and then re-hide them for other kids to find. Passing through mature Douglas Fir, Larch and Redwood forest with ponga tree ferns throughout, this is a magical place for the kids to be. At the centre of the Redwoods there are toilets, water fountains and picnic tables, as well as a café for a fluffy, coffee and delicious treats.


The inspiration: Being up high, looking out on the wonders of the world below is a pretty cool reason to just stop, appreciate and breathe – we need more of those moments in our life!

The trail: Rainbow Mountain – To get the views you need to climb… 743m to be exact. The 1 hour 30 minutes the climb takes will fly by as you check out this active geothermal mountain, with crater lakes and beautiful coloured earth. The 2.8km track leads to the summit where 360 degree views show Mt Tarawera, three lakes, forests, ranges and even the volcanic peaks of Mount Tongariro to the south.


The inspiration: You're keen to check out some pretty epic terrain while channelling your inner explorer.
The trail: Tarawera Trail – Following the shores of Lake Tarawera, this advanced tramping track has everything from water springs and bridges, to native bush and views of Lake Tarawera and Lake Rotomahana. Spanning 15km, the finish is a relief with natural hot water pools to bathe in. Either camp the night at Hot Water Beach and tramp back out, or pre-book a water taxi back to the start.


The inspiration: It’s your moment – potentially a bit terrified, you’re ready to give this mountain biking thing a whirl. You’re keen on some sweet trails where you definitely won’t fall off!

The trails: Make your way to the Waipa Forest entrance and start with the Kid’s Loop, then Creek Track, finishing with Dipper trail. This hour loop consists of Grade 1-2 trails, and is sure to have you grinning like crazy when you return, hungry for more.


The inspiration: You’re a shredder who’s arrived in Rotorua to figure out what this ‘dirt gold’ hype is all about. You want to go straight to the hardest and most technical trails Whakarewarewa Forest has to offer.

The trails: Head to 8 Mile Gate to nab a seat on the Mountain Bike Rotorua (M.B.R) bus. Once at the top, head for Tuhoto Ariki, then on to Hatupatu, followed by a climb up to Kang Fu Walrus which drops you out next to the stunning Green Lake. Get your pedal on to make it back to the bus and do it all again! Trails range from Grade 4-5 with the loop taking under 2hrs.


The inspiration: Your pooch needs some exercise and you want to go somewhere he/she can be off the lead to go wild.

The trail: Whakarewarewa Dog Park – The area across the road from the Redwoods is made available by Scion for dogs to run off lead. Wander through the trees and open spaces and also check out the river which your dog will love for a cool dip. The Redwoods i-SITE Visitor Information Centre also have free ‘doggy do’ bags available.


The inspiration: You want to get breathless and run in nature.

The trail: The Blue Lake trail is 5.5km long, following the shoreline with exotic and native trees. Undulating terrain keeps things interesting and a swim after is perfectly refreshing! The Airstream café for food and coffee as a treat after too.


The inspiration: You want to head out for a walk, but nothing too strenuous – casual wear will do.

The trail: How does a cheeky 30 minute rendezvous through the Redwood Memorial Grove sound? Covering 2km, you’ll see majestic 117 year old Redwood trees, a thermal waterway and hear beautiful birdsong.

  • The mountain biking app TrailMapps: Rotorua can be downloaded and will ensure you know where you are on the tails at all times
  • Rotorua  i–SITEs and cycle shops have Mankies available which are trail maps printed onto micro-fibre fabric. Perfect for knowing where you are and wiping sweat from the brow.
  • Share your experiences and memories with us on Instagram by tagging #RotoruaNZ and @RotoruaNZ

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