Te Ara Ahi Cycle Trail

Visit Waimangu Volcanic Valley and Rotorua’s other geothermal and cultural highlights by bike on one of the New Zealand Cycle Trails. Te Ara Ahi offers options for a short ride, day trip or multi-day adventure.

The New Zealand Cycle Trail Network is a collection of 22 Great Rides, providing a safe and sustainable way to explore New Zealand’s special places on two wheels. Te Ara Ahi – Go thermal by bike is a showcase of Rotorua’s geothermal and cultural highlights. The whole trail is 66km long, an easy-intermediate (grade 2-3) ride.

Te Ara Ahi provides a great way to visit Waimangu Volcanic Valley. You can arrange shuttle transport to the valley and ride back to Rotorua, or pre-book a shuttle to pick you up after your ride from Waimangu.

Rotorua to Waimangu Volcanic Valley

30km, Grade 2–3/easy–intermediate, 3–4 hours

Te Ara Ahi trail starts at the Princess Gate Archway, a short ride from the iSite. From here you travel through the Government Gardens and around the Rotorua Lakefront and Sulphur point. You’ll then reach an opportunity to take in some Maori culture and geothermal attractions at Whakarewarewa Maori Village, or visit the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute at Te Puia, also home to the famous Pohutu Geyser.

Te Ara Ahi - Maori Cultural Performance

From there it’s a short roll around to Waipa Mountain Bike car park, gateway to the Whakarewarewa Forest, also known as the Redwoods. If you have a mountain bike, you’d be mad not to take a side trip and discover some of the best trails in the country. Continuing on, the trail turns into a concrete path following State Highway 5 to Waimangu Valley Road.

Redwoods Mountain Bike Rotorua Ta Ara Ahi

From here, the trail follows the road into the valley though stunning rural landscapes, with breath-taking views of Mount Tarawera appearing around the corners, before you reach Waimangu after about 6km.

Stop at the café to refuel and then head on into the Waimangu Volcanic Valley. You can explore the world’s largest hot spring, see the iconic blue water of Inferno Crater and discover a variety of geothermal features on a Self-Guided walk or hike, or take a boat cruise on Lake Rotomahana to discover lakeside geothermal features and visit the home of the Pink and White Terraces.

Waimangu Volcanic Valley on Te Ara Ahi

Waimangu Volcanic Valley to Lake Ohakuri

36km Intermediate (Grade 3)

If you continue along the cycle trail, you’ll discover Lake Okaro before heading into an off-road section around the bottom of Rainbow Mountain. You’ll then come past Kerosene Creek before the trail continues on to Wai-o-Tapu. From here Te Ara Ahi takes you through into Waikite Valley where you can visit Waikite Valley Thermal Pools. Then ride past the Paeroa ranges and through Te Kopia geothermal field. The trail comes to an end at Lake Ohakuri, where you can either shuttle back to the start or ride the trail in reverse

 

Free things to do along Te Ara Ahi

  • Watch the bubbling mud pools from a variety of viewing areas just off Wai-o-Tapu Loop road
  • Take a soak in a geothermal river with a hot waterfall at Kerosene Creek (Te Ranga)
  • Explore some of the best mountain bike trails in New Zealand in the Redwood Forest
  • Park up the bike and take a walk to the summit of Rainbow Mountain for panoramic views of the area

Rainbow Mountain - Ta Ara Ahi

Food & Drink

  • Waipa MTB Car Park has a great cafe cart with coffee, smoothies, snacks and light lunch options
  • Wai-o-Tapu Tavern offers traditional hearty pub food and beer at extremely reasonable prices
  • Waimangu Café has a selection of hot and cold food and drinks
  • Waikite Valley has a lisenced poolside Café

 

Accommodation on Te Ara Ahi

There are a few options along the way to stay overnight if you’d like to make a multi-day ride on Te Ara Ahi. 

Wai-o-tapu Tavern offers budget backpacker style accommodation, a logical stopping point if you plan to ride the full 66km trail over 3 days. There is a camping area available at Lake Okaro – just past Waimangu Volcanic Valley, or Waikite Valley Hot Pools also offers camping, with free access to the thermal hot pools included.

Waikite Hot Pools Rotorua - Ta Ara ahi

Te Ara Ahi Shuttle Transport

Te Ara Ahi is a point to point cycle trail. If you don’t want to ride the trail in both directions, a good option is to arrange shuttle transport.

Thermal Land Shuttle provides transport between various points along the way, so it’s easy to put together a day ride or multi-day trip on the cycle trail.

Posted by Nicki Dent on January 31, 2019