Grade: Intermediate (3)
Duration: 2 days
Total Length: 66km
The Te Ara Ahi - Thermal By Bike offers viewing of some of the most unique geothermal sites in the world. Riders will be able to experience outstanding landscapes, pristine lakes and exotic forests as well as significant historical and cultural sites.
The trail will be a two day, 66km cycle trail from Rotorua to the Orakei Korako thermal area on the Waikato River. Day one will take cyclists from Te Puia past the Whakarewarewa Forest, the Green Lake picnic area, Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland where you can spend the first night staying with one of the existing commercial accommodation providers in the area.
A second day of riding will take riders into the Waikite Valley, past the Waikite Hot Pools, south along the Paeroa Range on Te Kopia Road and past the Te Kopia Geothermal Field.
The trail ends at Lake Ohakuri where riders can choose to either take a shuttle (pay per person) back to Rotorua or take a short optional (pay per person) boat trip to complete their journey. The trail route includes access to four significant geothermal fields including Whakarewarewa, Waimangu, Waiotapu and Orakei Korako. Each of these thermal areas has unique geothermal features, rare flora and fauna and is rich with Maori history and folklore. Possibly the most famous of these is the Whakarewarewa thermal reserve located next to Te Puia and the Whakarewarewa village which has existed for over 700 years and where families of the survivors of the Tarawera eruption now live.
There are other unique features along the trail route including the Green Lake (Rotokakahi), Lake Okaro restoration project (re-established wetland), Rainbow Mountain, Kerosene Creek, Waikite Geothermal Field, Te Kopia Geothermal Field, and the Paeroa Range which includes a number of established tramping tracks. All of the geothermal areas are well established with a wide range of amenities such as cafes, souvenir shops, toilets and bike storage facilities.
Best time to ride
In the summer months between November and April. However this will also be an enjoyable autumn and winter ride as there are plenty of warm water attractions and natural hot pools in the area to take the edge off any winter.
This trail will start at the main entrance of Te Puia Maori Arts and Crafts Institute. There are daily shuttles and organised tours from Rotorua to each of the geothermal areas as well as regular coach services between Rotorua and Taupo.
The Te Ara Ahi Trail is a joint initiative of the Rotorua District Council and The New Zealand Cycle Trail project.
Click here for more information, photos and maps.