This ride is not for the faint hearted – it says it is Grade 2 with bits of Grade 3, I found it a challenge largely because it is a four hour ride, but there were lots of opportunities to get off the track and head home if it was too much.
The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop is the newest of NZ’s great rides (the app is a must for cycling in NZ). The Loop is a 33km circular, (mostly) one-way mountain biking trail located in Whakarewarewa Forest (aka The Redwoods). We are staying at the Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park so it is on our doorstep on the outskirts of the city – just across the road from Te Puia, there is even an underpass for cyclists and walkers to cross the busy road.
Reminder: Carry water and lunch
To the right in the Te Puia carpark, look for two containers, this is where Te Ara ahi cycle trail will link you to the start of the Whakarewarewa Loop Track.
Starting in the Waipa carpark the track winds via countless switchbacks up the hill. This can be challenging for new riders, but they are well designed, and I only found I had to get off on one. The trail passes some glorious view points across Lake Rotorua and out to Mokoia Island, before heading off towards the Blue Lake. Mostly riding through forest, with occasional cut over open country. After the Blue Lake (great place to have lunch and a swim) we wind past the Green Lake and the track becomes a bit like a pump track – short sharp uphills powered by short downhill runs. Lots of fun.
I am starting to think my ebike is not going to make it – and there are a few places where you can choose an easier ride which I did once. I was close to running out of battery, but the last bit 7km of ride connects to the Te Ara ahi cycle trail and it is easy downhill ride on a concrete path. I arrived back at camp with 3kms spare in my battery whew!