Trail Info

Trail type: Cycling
Direction: One way

Cycling Duration: 2 days
Distance: 48 km

Fitness: Intermediate,high
Cycling Grade: 3
Grade 2 & 3 Sections
Gradient: Moderate
Parts of the trail are steep and may require walking.

Dog Friendly: Unknown

Rotorua i-SITE, 1167 Fenton St, Rotorua

This trail offers a 48km adventure through a thermal wonderland of steaming vents, bubbling mud pools and spectacular geysers.

Between the trail heads at Rotorua and the Waikite Valley Thermal Pools, this cycle trail takes riders to four significant geothermal fields: Whakarewarewa, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Wai-O-Tapu Thermal Wonderland and Waikite Valley Thermal Springs. Each has its own unique geothermal features, including rare flora and fauna, and is rich in Maori history and folklore. Possibly the most famous of these is the Whakarewarewa Thermal Reserve, located next to Te Puia (the New Zealand Maori Arts & Crafts Institute). Here you will also find Whakarewarewa Village, which has existed for over 700 years and is home to many families of the survivors of the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera.

Other unique features along the trail include the Lake Okaro restoration project (re-established wetland), Rainbow Mountain, Te Ranga Hot Pools and the Waikite Geothermal Field. Most of the geothermal areas are well established tourist attractions, with a wide range of amenities such as cafés, souvenir shops, toilets and bike storage facilities.


From the Rotorua i-SITE, ride east on Queen St to the start of the trail at the Princes Gate Archway a few hundred metres away.

Follow the trail signs around the edge of Lake Rotorua for 6km to the historic Whakarewarewa Maori Village (the village entrance is 200m off the trail on your left).

Guided tours are regularly held through this historical village. From the turn-off to the village, continue following signs south past Te Puia, theNew Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute, through Hemo Gorge to the entrance to the Whakarewarewa Forest for mountain biking (100m off the trail on your left). Here you will find a café and bike hire, etc.

From the mountain bike carpark, ride 150m towards the highway to the start of a concrete bike path, which runs alongside the highway for several kilometres of smooth easy riding. The trail then follows Waimangu Rd to the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, which is 31km from Rotorua.

At Waimangu Volcanic Valley you can relax in the café or pay to go for a walk on a number of walking trails through one of the world’s youngest thermal areas.


From Waimangu Volcanic Valley, continue along Waimangu Rd, past the Lake Okaro picnic area (camping sites available) and onto SH 38.

Take care crossing the highway and follow the off-road cycle path around Rainbow Mountain.

After passing a roadside picnic area the trail climbs further around the mountain and drops down to cross the gravel Old Waiotapu Rd.

Here you can turn left to go to Te Ranga (a thermally heated stream locally known as Kerosene Creek) or you can carry on straight ahead on an off-road trail all the way to Waiotapu.

Parts of the trail are steep here and may require walking. At Waiotapu you will find a hotel with accommodation, petrol station and a honey factory with a café and shop.

Only 2km from Waiotapu is the Waiotapu Mud Pool and the Wai-OTapu Thermal Wonderland (paid entry).From Waiotapu follow the Waikite Valley Rd for 6km to the Waikite Valley Thermal Pools – there is camping and a café here.


Credit content and photos to NZ Cycle Trail

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