Visit Māori cultural sites, hot springs and geothermal wonderlands on this pathway between downtown Rotorua and must-see attractions nearby.
Starting near Rotorua’s lakefront and dubbed Thermal by Bike, Te Ara Ahi passes four geothermal areas each with their own unique scenes and strange formations. Not only a leisurely way to get from A to B, this pathway is also enriched by fascinating Māori history, pretty lake and mountain views, and cafes along the way. Mountain biking enthusiasts can also detour into Rotorua’s world-famous Redwoods Mountain Bike Park.
Te Ara Ahi comprises three continuous sections ranging from easy to intermediate, with multiple access points and shuttles making it possible to tailor to suit riders’ abilities, interests and travel schedule. It’s a great way to get some fresh air and gentle exercise while sight-seeing around the area.
Starting at Prince’s Gate near Rotorua Museum, Te Ara Ahi follows the aptly named Sulphur Point Track along the lakeshore and past two major cultural and geothermal parks, Whakarewarewa and Te Puia. The cycleway continues past the world-famous Redwoods Mountain Bike Park, which has trails for every ability, then hugs the highway for around 21km to spectacular Waimangu Volcanic Valley, the world's youngest geothermal system.
From there the trail continues to pretty Lake Okaro, colourful Rainbow Mountain, and on to Kerosene Creek (Te Ranga), popular for its natural hot pools. There’s a fun, technical detour to the summit of Rainbow Mountain for skilled riders. The next attraction en route is Waiotapu where there’s a geothermal area, pub and honey factory, and Waikite Valley Thermal Pools that signal the end of the trail. Pre-arranged shuttles can transport riders back to Rotorua or Taupo.
View trail map here.
This grade 2–3 (easy to intermediate) trail follows a mix of concrete cycle paths, gravel and tarmac roads and off-road mountain bike tracks. Although predominantly smooth and gently undulating, some sections feature technical single-track and short but steep climbs, particularly between Waimangu and Waiotapu. Hybrid bikes will suffice for most of the trail although a mountain bike is better suited to off-road sections and detours into the Redwoods Mountain Bike Park or up Rainbow Mountain.
Although well signposted and mostly close to the road, riders should carry a map, water and snacks, a basic tool kit and cellphone (although coverage may be patchy). Visitor attractions along the way offer such facilities as cafes, souvenir shops, toilets and bicycle parking.
Although this is an all-season trail, some parts can get muddy during winter (June–August) when conditions may also be frosty. Riders should check the forecast and take appropriate clothing.
Mountain Bike Rotorua offers bike hire, shuttles, tours and advice, and has a handy base in the Redwoods Mountain Bike Park. Bike hire is also available from Outdoorsman Headquarters, and shuttles from Thermal Land Shuttle.
Rotorua is a major tourism destination and offers a wide range of accommodation downtown and in the surrounding areas.