A guide to cycle trails around Whakatane and the eastern Bay of Plenty

Whakatane in the eastern Bay of Plenty has some brilliant bike trails, ranging from an easy cruise to adventurous mountain biking. Here are 7 neat rides.

Warren Cole and river edge walk/cycleway 4km (each way)

This starts from the main road bridge and heads to the northern end of Whakatane, following the river. You can go right to the heads of the Whakatane river.

It’s a lovely, flat spin, with views ranging from estuary saltmarsh to busy wharves. Whakatane i-SITE has recreational level hire bikes.

Whakatane to Ohope roadside cycle/walkway, 6km (each way)

From Whakatane, the main road for Ohope and Opotiki is up Mokoroa Gorge. The bottom of the gorge is the start of a 6km shared-use cycle and walkway, which extends all the way over the hill to Ohope. There are a few places you cross sideroads, but the curb edges are all ramped. It's safe riding.

The ride out of Whakatane is a solid climb, about 1km long. It’s wide concrete path all the way to the top. From there, the track is mostly hard packed gravel, then concrete again down the steep Ohope hill.

Half way along, you pass the top entrance to Burma Road (ride described below).

Whakatane-Ohope side-trip option

At the top of Ohope Hill, if you turn off up Otarawairere road, you can climb first seal then gravel road all the way to Kapu-te-rangi, pa of gentle breezes. This was once the stronghold of Toi, paramount chief of the region. There is a stunning view down to Whakatane and the Rangataiki plains to Mt Tarawera, and north to White Island/Whakaari.

Burma/Maraetotara Road from Ohope, 9km loop

This ride follows the original road between Ohope and Whakatane. The best place to start/park is in Maraetotara Reserve in Ohope. There’s ample car parking, toilets, water and a children’s playground, and you’re right by Ohope beach.

Ride over the main Ohope road (Pohutukawa ave) and up Maraetotara rd. This soon turns to gravel, and you’re out into farmland. After 2km approx, Maraetotara rd meets Burma road.

Veer right onto Burma Road, which is gated to stop motor traffic. It’s signed. You now start climbing, through regenerating forest. There are wild kiwi here.

You climb about 2km on Burma rd, steadily, on gravel the whole way. Then you go through another gate and drop back to the main Whakatane-Ohope road (described above). From here it is 2km to Ohope and 3km back to where you parked. There is roadside cycle and walkway to Ohope, then an on-road cycle lane from there back to Maraetotara Reserve.

This is a neat family-level ride. It is better going the way described, not the other way around, as Ohope hill is steep.

Burma/Maraetotara Road farm 12km loop

Again, start from Maraetotara Reserve in Ohope. As described above, ride up Maraetotara rd to the intersection with Burma Road. This time, veer left. This takes you onto the eastern end of Burma Road.

The road almost immediately becomes farm track, with several gates. Stay on the main track. You climb to a saddle, with views over Ohiwa Harbour, then drop down the other side.

After the descent you pass by the entrance to Rawhiti Mountain Bike Park (described below). There is then a short section of gravel, to the main road (Wainui road), 4km east of Ohope.

It’s now a 4km on-road ride back to the start. Caution on the road. This circuit may be closed in September due to lambing. If you open a gate, close it after you.

Motu Trails 10km-90km

The Motu Trails are very accessible to Whakatane. It's a 55km, 45-minute drive. If you’re biking to Opotiki, it’s suggested you get off the highway much of the way, first by riding Burma road to Ohope; and second by turning off the highway after Kutarere, and riding the edge of Ohiwa Harbour for 6km. Much nicer!

The Motu Trails offers a wide range of cycling from the easy Dunes Trail to the adventure of the Pakihi Track. Visit www.motutrails.co.nz for more.

Rawhiti Mountain Bike Park 15km of trails

If you’re into challenging and ungroomed riding in hilly terrain, Rawhiti will please. You need a pass, as it is on private land. Contact Whakatane Cycle Centre or Whakatane i-SITE.

Onepu Mountain Bike Park 15km of trails

This one’s another gem for families, with a range of intermediate level trails. It’s about a 20 minute drive from Whakatane and about a 30 minute drive from Rotorua.

Onepu is close to Kawerau, so you could visit Onepu on the way to doing a walk to Tarawera Falls, for example.

Questions? Ask a passionate cyclist and trail runner who knows the trails by emailing jim@motutrails.co.nz

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