Hemo Gorge Trail is two-way, Grade 2, shared trail that takes cyclists and walkers off SH5 for access to the Waipa Mountain Biking car park. It is part of the Te Ara Ahi cycleway that continues to Rainbow Mountain. The trail is 1.5km from the Te Puia carpark to the Waipa car park (actual trail length to Waipa trailhead: 1.5km).
Heading out to the forest from town, Hemo Gorge Trail starts at the southern end of the Te Puia carpark and follows a wide, well-bermed section to the valley floor for a quick run to the Puarenga Stream. Rotorua's water used to come from the Waipa Spring and the pipes and buildings have been uncovered as part of the work. At the old pumping station, take the stairs up to a great spot with a view down the gorge to the city.
Seats along the way offer spots to rest and take in the environment.
Continue south and you will reach a fork. Turn right and it's a steep-ish climb, and turning left takes you along the river to well-engineered stairs for a short hike-a-bike. Get ready for a fast downhill, then a steady climb, after which you'll arrive at the Bridge to Waipa – an impressive structure! On the left is single-track all the way to the Waipa mountain bike hub and car park and you are at the trailhead. Head right on the pathway to Waipa Mill Road and right again to SH5, and you will find the concrete strip of Te Ara Ahi on the left of the highway.