Rides

Taupo Great Lake Trail – Waihaha Section

Rating: 3.5 out of 5.

About the Waihaha Section

The Waihaha section is the shortest of the Great Lake Trails at less than 13kms, but it still provides some of the most spectacular views as you pedal your way down the Waihaha River Valley towards Lake Taupo.

The Waihaha section joins up to the Waihora section of the Great Lake Trails which together, makes for an epic ride. 

About the Area

The Central North Island in New Zealand is riddled with awesome riding. 

Taupo itself is a veritable mountain bikers paradise, with Craters MTB Park, The Rotary Ride and Huka Falls and Great Lakes Trails all offering a variety of quality off-road riding options.

A little further out of Taupo and you have The Waikato River Trails, Rotorua with their world class trails, Ohakune with the Old Coach Road and Bridge to Nowhere, Fishers Track, The Timber Trail… The list goes on!

If you haven’t explored the area, it should be on your list.

Getting There

The Waihaha section of the Great Lake Trails starts about 40mins past Kinloch on Western Bay Road (SH32). It is well sign posted.

If coming down from the North, turn off at Tokoroa towards Whakamaru. If coming up from the South, just follow the road past Turangi around the Western side of Lake Taupo.

We drove through from Hawke’s Bay via Taupo town and Kinloch.

Scenery

Lake Taupo, Waihaha River, Tieke Falls (Waihaha Falls)

Pitstops

There are toilets and shelters at each end of the trail

Grade 3

Mostly pumice surface with plenty of rocks

Stats

1 ½ hours riding on eBikes, 12.4kms, 240mtrs climbing

Great Lake Trails – Waihaha Section on Trailforks.com

Riding the Waihaha Section

We last rode this section back in 2014 so I was really interested to see how the trail had changed over time.

Starting from the carpark at the Western Bay Road end, the trail starts by a shelter and map board on the southern side of the river. There’s a toilet about 50mtrs down the trail BTW. From here you cross the stunning Waihaha River via a small bridge and follow the river as it plunges deep into a gorge and disappears from view.

The trail surface on the Waihaha section is predominantly crushed pumice with a few rocks sticking out here and there which can make it a little technical in places. 

We think you would want to be a confident grade 3 rider for this section of the trail. 

This section doesn’t feel quite as groomed as the rest of the Great Lake Trails, maybe that is because it is a little further out and less ridden?

The day we rode (28 Feb 2022) we encountered a few cattle on the trail that had done a fair bit of damage, no doubt the local trail fairies will sort that out and you can help them out with donations to Bike Taupo here.

The trail zig zags back and forth for a few kms with a gentle climb until you reach a viewing seat, offering a view out over the river gorge. 

Pedalling on, the trail continues zig zagging and again you have a gentle climb before you come across the viewing spot for the epic Tieke Falls, often referred to as Waihaha Falls. 

Situated about 3 or 400 metres off the trail down in the river valley. The Waihaha River re-emerges in dramatic fashion with these falls sounding very powerful. It’s a shame there is no trail down to them as the beach looks like it would make for an awesome picnic spot.

Looking back down towards the lake, the river zig zags its way through the river valley towards Waihaha Bay.

Rolling on from here you are nearly at the highest point on the trail before you can enjoy a little downhill cruising. 

The trail skirts a few farms before it joins up with the Waihora section where there’s a toilet for needy riders too.

From here you can ride back the way you came, ride back via the road (this is what we did) or you can continue on the Waihora section (30kms total), which is epic.

Final Thoughts

An awesome addition to the Great Lake Trails and a fabulous ride on its own. 

The trail is more technical in some sections than the other sections of the Great Lake Trails but the views are worth the pedal.

We think this would be best ridden with the Waihora section as a point-to-point ride. Just don’t forget to organise a water taxi to pick you up at the end.

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