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Western Okataina

 

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The Western Okataina Walkway (WOW) It is a part of The Department of Conservation (DOC) initiative to provide more recreational opportunities, increasing the amount of users on existing trails and working with the wider community in growing the region. 

Local mountain bikers have worked alongside DOC to address the flow of the trail - particularly installation of culverts to improve a couple of the larger creek crossings.

The WOW is an old logging road that dates back to earlier last century when the area was logged for rimu, totara, rata & kahikatea. It varies between wide and well formed to rutted singletrack with the occasional rocky or rooty section. Overall the trail rates as a grade 3 in terms of technical difficulty. 

The trail is shared use, and two way. Although it sees less traffic than the Whakarewarewa Forest trail network, it is not unusual to encounter walkers and runners - particularly towards the Okataina end of the trail.


The track is accessed from three entry points (two on Okataina Road: the Okataina Education Camp and Waipungapunga car park) and from Millar Road, Lake Okareka, with a total ride of about 16.5 kilometres, one way.

map
From Millar Road
it is mostly an undulating 11.5 km, with a solid climb towards the Whakapoungakau junction. From the junction it is a short detour of 1.4 km up to the trig where views of the surrounding area, Lakes Rotorua & Rotoiti abound. Or turn right at the Whakapoungakau Junction for 4.8 km of mainly downhill to the Outdoor Education Centre and Waipungapunga car park.


From Lake Okataina
steel yourself for the main climb. After a short traverse through native bush at the lake there is a steep 3km section to reach the Whakapoungakau Junction. The rolling terrain out to Millar Rd offers some excellent sustained gradient descents.


Simon Alefosio-Tuck from DOC has ridden the walkway in both directions. He reckons Millar Road to the Education camp is the best direction for a one-way ride, starting with 11.5 kilometres to the Whakapongakau Trig track junction. This is mostly undulating with a solid uphill nearing the junction. From there it’s an exciting 4.8 kilometres downhill all the way to end.

“It’s a great endurance/back country track just 15mins from Rotorua city” says Simon. “Mainly grade 3, but the climbs are solid in length and gradient. Expect to find a couple of un-ride able sections (stream crossings and rutted trails) unless you’re a skilled rider”

A challenging ride that has proved popular in the past is from Millar Road to The Clearing and back (18 kilometres).

“The Clearing is an old skid site that is an open grass field,” says Simon. “It’s similar to the clearing on Tuhoto Ariki, just ten times bigger.”

There is signage at all the entry points explaining the trail conditions and a map to show the area concerned.


Disclaimer:

This track differs considerably to the majority of the trails in the Whakarewarewa Forest. It isn’t in pine forest, the trail hasn’t been carefully constructed and maintenance doesn’t include a fined toothed comb. It is mainly in native bush, drains water slowly, can stay boggy in places for weeks, has large ruts that virtually never get any attention, the vegetation/gorse gets trimmed irregularly. However, if you are up for adventure, enjoy a challenge and the satisfaction that comes with ‘knocking the bastard off’ (quote thanks to Ed Hillary) then this track is for you.

 

Check out the ride profile - from the bottom of Tarawera Road out to WOW, the walkway and back and then return to Lynmore - a good day out...

 

TRAIL PROFILE (click to enlarge)

 


Please ride within your limits, and be aware that trails can change with weather and heavy use from race events effecting their difficulty. Ride Rotorua will in no way be liable for any injury or damages arising from riding any of the trails listed on the Ride Rotorua website.

 

 

RIDERS COMMENTS:

Yes a great wilderness experience but anticipate having to manhandle your bike up the erosion ruts which are too deep and narrow to peddle, going down they are not such a problem. Presently the track is overgrown in places; expect to have to push through gorse, toi toi and chest high grass.

 

Art - 17/12/16 12:02pm

 

Rode this trail from Millar Rd end on the 8.1.15. 3 hours to the trig and back, with a lot of walking up hill on the way out due to the deep ruts. On the return all rideable and good downhill runs. Great veiws from the Trig Ralph - 8.1.15

 

Ralph Heading - 19/01/16 02:19pm

 

Rode Millar Rd to the Trig and back yesterday. The trail was dry and riding well. There are technical sections that make it interesting. It is harder getting to the Trig than the return which has some excellent downhill. Great adventure for the fitter rider (with some skills).

 

Gregg - 02/11/15 01:16pm

 

Did this as a there and back yesterday. The trail was 99% good, in the middle of winter, until I got to the downhill. The steep sections of this have been destroyed. Big DEEP ruts down the middle, now basically unride-able. This is due to 2 things, 1) The surface being made of loose coarse volcanic grit and sand which erodes VERY easily. 2) Too many people riding on their brakes. A bit gutted as it was SO good 3 years ago.

 

Martyn - 26/07/15 06:02pm

 

Did the ride on a Sunday morning. Well recommended! After reading comments I was a little hesitant but 98% of the track is ride-able and a great adventure ride. Not as difficult as comment suggest. May be a little dodgy in the wet but now on my list of 'best rides ever'!!

 

Chris - 19/01/14 03:28pm

 

I came from the education centre end. It's a good "honest" climb to the trig but great fast down hill on the return trip. Looking forward to returning at xmas and doing the ride to Millar road.

 

John K - 02/10/13 10:04pm

 

Fantastic ride. We rode this in mid July and started from Okataina. Yep, there's a bit of uphill in the first 4km and we walked a bit but were rewarded with 11km of fun grade 3 downhill to Okareka. The trail had recently been cleared and there were only one or 2 spots that we need to get off to cross a stream or duck under a tree. Really clean ride. We'll definitely be back for more.

 

Andy Fuller - 22/07/13 09:32pm

 

Truly one of the classics. A real Mtb ride. we did it as a there and back from Okareka. 35km plus minus return trip. Really awesome. Not sure about some of the unsafe comments. Will def do it again. well done..

 

victor Haupt - 01/04/13 08:11pm

 

Congratulations DOC and volunteers. This is a REAL mountain bike trail for real mountain bikers. Sure, you have to walk, push and carry your wheels on little parts of this ride but if you can\'t handle a bit of rough then leave the bike at home, it makes a fantastic walk also. Eight of us rode from the Okataina end (Education Centre) through to the beautiful Lake Okareka end via the trig. I think we all agreed that starting as we did from Okataina up the 4km plus hill climb to the trig is the best direction. From there on it is mostly down hill with the last 4 - 5km a fantastic down hill ride. I hope you keep it open to bikes Mr DOC. We only saw 2 walkers/runners (and lots of wallaby)on Sunday 27th Jan. so bikers will help keep the trail usable. Good job. Thank you.

 

David - 29/01/13 08:15pm

 

This is a great adventure style ride. I say Adventure as some of the trail is unrideable and one stream crossing in particular is interesting at best. Still a great ride if your looking for something a little more testing.

 

MIke H - 24/10/12 08:19am

 

Having run from the Education Centre to the Trig several times some years ago I really looked forward to my ride from Millar Rd to the Trig return (26.3ks). Most disappointing; the track is almost non existent in places, unrideable in others, and the two water crossings verge on being dangerous. Much needs to be done to consider this goat track suitable for bike riders - including getting rid of gorse; its certainly nothing like a Grade 3 - I ride 4-5 times weekly on steep Timberlands tracks and roads and struggled to make the return ride. Not recommended, won't repeat.

 

John, Rotorua - 15/10/12 03:19pm

 

Awesome adventure ride... Some tricky bits and a couple of awkward portages across creeks, but a great day out... Nice change from the groomed trails in the forest if you're up for something rugged.

 

Megan Dimozantos - 07/10/12 04:43pm

 

Down hill from the junction to Okataina is great. Steep and fast Gr4. Some sections not ridable due to hoof damage and big stepped ruts. 95% good. This is not a groomed track. No trail pixies have been here. rugged Gr3. If you hate Tuhuto Ariki you probably wont like this. Old School.

 

Martyn - 29/09/12 08:22pm