HEMO GORGE TRAIL
GRADE: 2 LENGTH: 1.5KM
BUILT: By Red McHale and Department of Corrections crews in 2012.
Sections re-aligned by South Star Trails in 2014 to ease the gradient and resurfaced in 2017 by Craig Pattle and the Velosolutions crew.
GETTING THERE: Heading out to the forest from town, the trail starts at the southern end of the Te Puia car park and drops down to the valley floor and onwards beside the Puarenga stream.
Rotorua's water used to come from the Waipa Spring and the pipes and buildings have been uncovered as part of the work. At the old pumping station take the stairs to a great spot with a view back down the gorge to the city. There are also seats in a couple of spots to rest and take in the environment.
Heading the other way - from the Waipa MTB Carpark towards town - the entry is across the grassed field at the carpark. There is a continuation of the trail which skirts the northern edge of the field if you have come out of the forest on Pohaturoa Rd. or you can cut across the grass if you're coming from the carpark/cafe/bike hire area.
TRAIL DESCRIPTION: This is a 2-way shared trail that takes cyclists and pedestrians off State Highway 5 for access to the Waipa MTB carpark - and back again. It is heavily used so please ride responsibly and expect oncoming riders and walkers at all times.
The gradient is predominantly flat, with one gentle incline to deal with. Entering the trail from town, the incline delivers you to a cleared area with several apparent trails and a couple of entry-level skinnies to ride. Turn left for a short descent (control your speed). Or turn right for a more gentle descent to meet up with the other fork beside the stream. Then it's a flat section over a bridge to get to the Waipa MTB Carpark.
Heading the other way, from the Waipa MTB carpark back towards town, after crossing the bridge you can take the right hand fork (that's the steep one described above), or take the left fork which is the slightly longer but gentler option to get to the top of the rise.
Riding from town to the forest: On the left there is singletrack to the Waipa MTB carpark and you are at the trailhead. Or head right on the pathway to Waipa Mill Road and right again to State Highway 5 (SH5) and you will find the concrete strip of Te Ara Ahi cycleway continuing south on the left of SH5.
Riding from the forest to town: From Te Puia Carpark head back to town on Fenton St.