Whakarewarewa Forest Loop – Rotorua

Rating: 4.5 out of 5.

About the ride

The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop is the latest addition to the Ngā Haerenga Great Rides network… And for good reason! 

Running around the perimeter of the Whakarewarewa Forest Park in Rotorua, this place is literally ground zero for some of New Zealand’s very best mountain bike trails.

Stitched between the Waipa and Te Putake O Tawa carparks, the ride is easily accessible and offers a cruisy 33km grade 2/3 ride, perfect for the whole family.

About the area

Rotorua is the crown jewel of MTB in the central North Island, a geothermal mountain biking mecca! From world class trails at Skyline MTB Park to the enormous Whakarewarewa Forest you really can fill ya boots!

Off the bike, Rotorua has a lot on offer too. You’ll find adventures for two legs, by knife and fork and by the pint… If you get what I mean ;).

Nearby, there are a swag of awesome trails to choose from in Taupo, The Timber Trail, Fishers Track, Ohakune Old Coach Road, Moerangi, we could go on and on…

Getting there

Rotorua is approximately an hour north of Taupo on SH5, or 2 hours & 50mins if travelling south from Auckland via SH1.

You can start the Whakarewarewa Forest Loop at either carpark or from Lake Tikitapu. The Waipa Carpark is straight off the main road on SH5 just two minutes out of town. The new Te Putake O Tawa Carpark is off Tarawera Road as you head towards Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake)

The Waipa carpark has a cafe, bike shop with mechanics and rentals. There are showers, toilets and a bike wash and at the end of your ride, the Secret Spot is Heavenly!

The Te Putake O Tawa carpark also has two container cafes, a bike shop with mechanics and rentals. There are also showers, toilets and a bike wash here too.


Redwoods, Lake Rotorua, Lake Tikitapu, Lake Rotokakahi


Toilets, food, bike shop and rental at both carparks. Toilet and dairy at Lake Tikitapu.

Grade 2/3

Well groomed and maintained trail. Some exposed edges. 20% concrete pathway


2 ½ hours riding on eBikes, 33.1kms, 840mtrs climbing

Whakarewarewa Forest Loop (Official) on Trailforks.com

Riding the Whakarewarewa Forest Loop

We started our ride at the Waipa carpark where the trail is designed to be ridden one-way in a clockwise direction.

The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop starts right next the MTB hub, look for the distinctive “Loop” signage and follow this all the way around. Crossing the bridge you’ll follow the trail into the forest where you will be surrounded by massive redwood trees. A few minutes later you will pedal past a couple of natural thermal mud pools, definitely jump off the bike and take a look over the fence. Following on, the trail heads around to the top of Radio Hut Road at the main intersection.

Here we encountered some logging detours, it pays to find out in advance if there are any detours in place before your ride. In our instance, it was pretty easy to navigate around things.

Pedalling onwards, we continued up Tokairangi Road with a gentle climb towards Chubbo’s Pass which is a great place for a stop to rehydrate if needed. From here it is an easy ride through some beautiful bush to get to the lookout over Lake Rotorua and you’ll definitely want to stop here! The unobstructed views are stunning to say the least.

Leaving the lookout you’ll enjoy a slight descent until you pop out at Te Putake O Tawa carpark (12km mark) to have a well deserved rest & a great place to grab a bite to eat. There is food available for purchase, a small bike shop & bathrooms to use.

Getting back on the saddle you’ll head towards Lake Tikitapu (Blue Lake) & Lake Rotokakahi (Green Lake) my personal favourite part of the Whakarewarewa Forest Loop trail (checkout our review and video on that section here). Super flowy & heaps of fun with yet another beautiful place to stop & take a seat on the carved out tree trunk overlooking Lake Rotokakhi. (22.5km mark).

Carrying on from here the trails continues to offer up more flowy goodness over Baja Trail until you pop out on the concrete cycle way (Te Ara Ahi) running parallel to the roadside bringing you back to the Waipa car park where you started. 

The trail surface is extremely well groomed, mostly smooth riding with next to no technical sections. This is the perfect ride for everyone at any skill level. Although it is worth noting that this trail does intersect with other trails in the forest so be sure to take care when crossing these and they are sign posted.

Final thoughts

As Rotorua is one of our favourite riding destinations and we enjoyed this trail so much, the Whakarewarewa Forest Loop scored an awesome 4.5 stars from us.

The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop offers just the right mix of technicality, distance, climb, trail features and amenities to score as one of our absolute favourites.

The only obvious changes we could suggest to improve the trail would be to develop off road sections as an alternative to the roadside Te Ara Ahi concrete pathway at the end of the ride.

This is a must ride for anyone wanting to experience the very best one-day grade 2/3 off-road trails in the Nga Haerenga Cycle Trails network.

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  1. This ride popped up on my Facebook feed and I suggested to my hubbie that we give it a go. We are pretty new to eBikes and set off for the adventure on Saturday. What an amazing experience. Well worth the travel down. Beautiful scenery, lovely and clean and all the staff without exception were extremely friendly. Highly recommend this bike ride.

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