While staying in Kinloch recently, Teresa and I decided to checkout another section of the Great Lake Trails. Namely the Waihora section as a there and back ride. Check out what we thought of this ride…
As we decided to do a “there and back” on the second half of this trail, we started from the carpark at the end of Waihaha Road which is about 30 minutes-drive from Kinloch.
It’s not the easiest trail to find but there is signage on Western Bay Road right by the entrance to Waihaha Road, so keep an eye out.
To get to the carpark drive to the end Waihaha Road which turns to gravel and then a farm track, it was quite rutted out when we visited so it would pay to bring a 4×4.
The start of trail features a long-drop toilet and some signage including a trail map. You turn left from the gate to ride down to Waihora, and I guess you could turn right to ride up to the top of the Waihaha section, but it would be a gentle climb most of the way.
About the Trail
Like the rest of Taupo’s Great Lake trails, the trail surface is a nice easy riding hardpack dirt with lots of pumice. This provides good traction and drainage after rain.
This trail is multi-use and also two-way so you need to keep your wits about the potential for walkers and riders coming in the other direction. As with other trails, being courteous, slowing down and letting people know how many riders in your party will be appreciated.
This section of the trail is 17kms, so if you are doing a “there and back” you will need big legs or an eMTB. Alternatively, there are a few local shuttle operators that will drop you off at the carpark and pick you up by boat at Waihora Bay.
Checkout Trailforks for GPS coords and trail elevation profile.
From the carpark, the trail flows nicely for a few kilometres featuring dips and turns, a wetland boardwalk and then it begins a descent down a few switchbacks to the first lookout. Be careful on some of the switchbacks as they can be a little rutted out.
This first cliff lookout offers a dramatic 40mtr drop down to the lake and unobstructed view across the lake to Tongariro National Park. It is a good spot to catch your breath before your big climb to get up out of the valley.
Once you reach the top of this climb, you will ride approximately 8kms along the ridges until you get to the next valley, this has another great lookout spot facing more easterly across the valley to the next lookout spot. This is just a bit further than halfway to the waterfall at Waihora Bay, and once you descend into the valley you have another big climb to the top again.
When you get to Echo Rock, you will only be a few kms away from the decent down to Waihora Bay which winds down next to the cascading Kotukutuku Waterfall.
The bay is small and can be a little crowded in summer as boats like to anchor here but the swimming is fantastic so take your togs if you fancy a mid or end of ride dip.
The bay features a large shelter that is home to some huge spiders lurking in the rafters and a longdrop toilet too. With plenty of stops for photos and videos and a mid-ride swim we took around 5 hours for the 35km round trip.
This section of the trail is right up there as one of our favourites for the epic lookouts, mid-ride swim opportunity and easy riding.
Checkout our YouTube video of the ride below and subscribe for regular updates.