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1 - 2 days
· Incredible views of the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park
· All-weather riding - free draining pumice soil
· Easily accessible - shuttles and water taxi available
· Packages, accommodation and other adventure activities available
15 mins from Taupo
Intermediate (Grade 3)
The 71km Great Lake Trail spans an area from the Waihaha River on the western side of Lake Taupo through to Whakaipo Bay, some 15km from Taupo. The trail accesses some of the most remote and peaceful areas around the western shores of Lake Taupo as well as linking the well-known village of Kinloch with Whakaipo Bay (to the east) and Kawakawa Bay (to the west).
The trail is lauded as the best Grade 3 singletrack of the New Zealand Cycle Trail network and was built by a skilled team of trail builders from Bike Taupo. Taupo’s mountain bike trails are highly regarded and the region region was recently accredited as a Silver Level Ride Centre by the International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA).
The entire Great Lake Trail is 71km long, with separate sections ranging in length from 9.2 to 17km. Riders can choose to complete the entire Great Lake Trail in 1-2 days depending on fitness levels, or opt to complete separate sections depending on time available. Shuttle services and a water taxi are available to transport you between the different sections of the trail.
The Great Lake Trail can be accessed by road from a number of different points.
Waihaha section - starts at the Waihaha River carpark, 54km from Taupo.
Orakau section – starts from the carpark on Whangamata Rd, 27km from Taupo.
K2K section – Kinloch village, 21km from Taupo, is the access point if riding just the K2K section. The other end of the K2K joins up with the Orakau section at Kawakawa Bay, which is only accessible by boat/water taxi.
W2K section - starts at Whakaipo Bay, 12.5km from Taupo. Can also be accessed from Kinloch village, 21km from Taupo.
Shuttle services are available for transport from Taupo and/or pick ups and drop offs at the different sections of the trail. Shuttles must be booked in advance. A pre-bookable water taxi Is available for pick ups and drop offs at Kotukutuku Landing (the end of the Waihora section of the trail), Kawakawa Bay, Kinloch and Whakaipo Bay.
Best Time to Ride
The Great Lake Trail can be ridden in all seasons due to the free-draining pumice soil surface. Even in wet weather there is usually little or no mud on the trail. Winter is, in fact, a great time to ride the trail as the snowy peaks of Tongariro National Park and the occasional plume of volcanic steam from Mt Tongariro look incredible at this time of year.
Mountain bikes can be hired from a number of places in the Taupo region. Find a full list here.
- The Great Lake Trail is a Grade 3 mountain bike trail and a reasonable level of fitness is required to ride each section.
- Mountain bikes with front suspension are recommended.
- Always carry a puncture repair/tool kit with you as well as a first aid kit.
- Many parts of the Great Lake Trail are isolated with no mobile phone coverage.
- Check the weather forecast before you leave and be prepared to ride in any conditions – the New Zealand climate can be changeable.