This exciting new development gives just about anybody a chance to sample the best of the Whakarewarewa Forest, on trails circumnavigating the entire park.
The 35 kilometre route takes in views of three lakes, many different types of forest, and can be completed in a day or two, in various sections, or used to create loops of your own.
The trails that form the Loop are all Grade 1 or 2, meaning that careful riders will not be faced with any challenges they are not ready for.
The Loop is designed so that the start - finish is at the Waipa entrance to the forest, and is to be ridden in a clockwise direction. That doesn't mean you can't start anywhere else! It is to be ridden clockwise though, many segments are one-way trail for safety.
Waipa has all the amenities you might need, rental bikes, a retail store, cafe, toilets and showers, and a large carpark. There are even hot pools adjacent to the carpark!
The Loop climbs out of Waipa to a long traverse of the Tokorangi Pa ridge, with views of the city. It then runs along trails gently down and then along to Te Potaka O Tawa, the trail entrance on Tarawera Road. There are toilets, showers, bike rentals and a cafe.
The next segment takes riders to Lake Tikitapu. There are toilets at the reserve, it's a great place for a swim, and the Blue Lake campground is nearby. Food and drinks are available.
The segment around Lake Tikitapu follows the Tangimoana trail to the Te Kotukutuku trail above lake Rotokakahi, with stunning views of the lake and surrounds.
The Loop passes by a picnic area next to a redwood grove, and then follows the Baja Trail out to a section of Te Ara Ahi, a concrete path that runs gently downhill to Waipa and the finish.
IT'S NOT QUITE FINISHED YET! THE UNFINISHED BIT AT THE TOP OF THE MAP IS AN ARCHAEOLOGICAL SITE. SERIOUSLY, THE TRAIL BUILDERS FOUND AN ANCIENT PA SITE. YOU CAN RIDE AROUND THAT SECTION AND CONTINUE ON THE FOREST LOOP, BUT IT REQUIRES A STEEP LITTLE CLIMB AND AN EVEN STEEPER BUT NOT TECHNICAL DOWNHILL SECTION. IT IS NOT SO LONG THAT YOU COULDN'T WALK IT IF IT LOOKS TOO SCARY. AN ALTERNATIVE IS TO FINISH THERE BY DESCENDING A TRAIL YOU WILL COME TO NAMED 'TANK TO TOWN'. THAT GETS YOU BACK TO LONG MILE ROAD AND THE REDWOODS. THE UNFINISHED BIT AT THE ROTOKAKAHI / GREEN LAKE END IS A RECONSTRUCTION OF TE KOTUKUTUKU, A BEAUTIFUL TRAIL WITH VIEWS OF THE LAKE. WORK CONTINUES, BUT PART OF THE TRAIL CAN BE USED AND SIGNAGE SHOWS CLEARLY WHERE TO GO. LOGGING ACTIVITY DOWN THAT WAY IS UNDERWAY, PLEASE OBEY ALL SIGNAGE AND INSTRUCTIONS FROM SECURITY.