Whakarewarewa Forest Loop Trail - RIDE IT NOW!!
This exciting new development is part of the Nga Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail system, and it is already very popular. The trail 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 refreshment options. A shuttle operates from this area sometimes (check schedules here) which will take you to the top of the main climb from the Tarawera Road side of the forest, enabling various shortcuts back to Waipa.
The next segment takes riders to Lake Tikitapu, commonly called the Blue Lake. There is a spectacular run through some well-established native forest on a trail called The Feeder (the reasons for that name are lost in the mists of time!). It is beautiful, but care must be taken. It is two-way, and can be used by walkers. Please be careful on The Feeder! There are toilets at the Blue Lake 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 Tangaroamihi trail. Most of this trail is also two-way - please expect oncoming traffic! There is a split after a few kilometres, you must take the signposted trail to the right which becomes one-way. This leads to Tikitapu Road, where there is a signposted route 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.
There are numerous ways you can intersect or diverge from the Forest Loop to create your own versions. A few of our favorites are featured here.