World's Best Trails?
It's a bold claim. But the thousands of locals and visitors who ride the Whakarewarewa trail network every year will all tell you they are a fantastic place to mountain bike.
In a country with some great mountain biking, this 130 kilometre trail network on the southern outskirts of the city are some of the finest.
And research confirms the significant role they play in the lifestyle and economy of Rotorua. The trails have evolved over the years with a lot of people involved in building, maintaining and developing.
• Mike Ferrentino described the Rotorua trail network in US magazine, BIKE, like this:
“Rotorua…Tourism central…This haven of geysers and mud pools is, and always has been, New Zealand’s meeting point between tourism and Maoritanga…Not that we really had time to notice or care, sucked immediately as we were into the local forest, onto trails built by mountain bikers with mountain bikers in mind. Trails in verdant shade that dip and weave and roll. Trails that sneak through trees in a way that makes hard riders hoot with joy yet at the same time could coax a huge grin to the face of a 70-year-old grandma on her first bike ride ever. Sure, gawk at the geysers, wrinkle your nose at the stinking mud holes, soak in the springs, but get down on your knees and kiss the mulchy earth of these trails because they are the true hidden treasure here."
Our tracks provide a rich playground for locals and tourists (from New Zealand and overseas) all compressed into around 50 hectares of lush, ferny forest and catering for everyone - from beginners and family groups right through to the experts.
In August 2006, Rotorua hosted the UCI Mountain Bike & Trials Championships.
These were held on Mount Ngongotaha, one of the city's main landmarks on the northern edge of town.
Visitors rode the trails in Whakarewarewa Forest visitors and they were a perfect training ground for competitors in the Worlds.
• Rounds of the New Zealand National Championships, XTERRA, the NDURO Winter MTB Series (consisting of 3 big one-lappers), The Tour de Whaka, the 24 Hours of Rotorua and The Highlander all feature on the Whakarewarewa calendar, among other annual events.
• The Whaka 100 (in October) is the NDURO Classic and is one of the toughest challenges on the New Zealand MTB calendar - 100km and some big climbs with a great mix of terrain, singletrack and forest roads.
• In 2008 and 2009 the Pig & Whistle New Zealand Singlespeed Championships were run in the forest on Anzac Weekend in April. They returned on Anzac Weekend 2013.
• In 2010 this full range of events in the Whakarewarewa Forest was joined by the Singlespeed World Championships October 22-24, with large numbers of overseas visitors in town.
• In February 2013, all of Rotorua's cycling community came together for the 1st Rotorua Bike Festival. 10 days of events for almost everyone, from the serious racer to the recreational cyclist, all under pure blue skies of Summer.
All the mountain bike events feature the full range of the Whakarewarewa Forest - through Pine, Californian Redwoods, Australian Eucalyptus and native New Zealand ferns and more - bringing riders and support crews into town and continuing to benefit the local economy.
Over the last 100 years visionaries in the New Zealand Forest Service planted experimental stands of trees from around the world to create the Whakarewarewa Forest. And it’s this variety that gives the mountain biking trails their distinctive flavour.
Photo: Graeme Murray - filteredvision