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The definitive where-to-ride guide for cycling in New Zealand

Te Ara Ahi ... 'Go Thermal by Bike'

New Zealand Cycle Trail

Rotorua, North Island

Planning on riding Thermal by Bike? Check out our One Day experience that includes transportation back to Rotorua and hard tail mountain bike hire. 

Te Ara Ahi
is a two day Great Ride that extends 74 kms from Rotorua to the thermal area of Orakei Korako on the Waikato River. This Grade 2 trail takes in the best of Rotorua's thermal activitity and is suitable for all levels of cyclists.

The Great Ride will take riders through four of the world's most unique geothermal areas. Cyclists will first pass Whakarewarewa - a Maori village and an area of hot thermal springs and bubbling mud pools. After passing the Whakarewarew Forest with its towering Californian Coastal Redwoods, cyclists will pass Green Lake and Waimangu and continue on to Waiotapu Thermal Wonderland where they will spend the first night.

Day One: Rotorua to Waiotapu: 48 km, 4 - 6 hours

From Rotorua, the Thermal by Bike trail starts on Queens Drive, opposite the Rotorua i-SITE. From here, head east on Queen Street and follow the Cycle Trail signs around the edge of the picturesque Lake Rotorua. After about 6 kms, you'll arrive at the the historic Whakarewarewa Māori Village. From the village, head south past Te Puia, the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, through Hemo Gorge to the entrance to the fantastic Whakarewarewa Mountain Bike Park. There is a cafe here as well as access to hundreds of kms of custom built single track.

From the mountain bike car park, ride 50 m along the highway to the start of the recently built concrete cycle path. This path runs alongside the highway for several kilometres (aprox 30kms) providing for smooth and easy riding. The trail follows Waimangu Road to the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, which is 31 km from Rotorua.

After leaving the Waimangu Volcanic Valley, continue along Waimangu Road, past the Lake Okaro picnic area as far as State Highway 38. Take care crossing the highway (there is an underpass currently in construction - March 2013) and follow the off-road cycle path around Rainbow Mountain to Kerosene Creek. Kerosene Creek is a great spot to park up the bike and soak away the days pains in a natural thermal pool. Parts of the trail are steep here and there may be some walking fo inexperienced cyclists. 

It's only a quick ride along the gravel road to Waiotapu where you finish your first day. There is a cafe, old hotel and a honey shop here. Here you can either spend the night or arrange for transportation back to Rotorua or Taupo.  

Day Two: Waiotapu to Lake Ohakuri :  26 km, 2 - 3 hours

After leaving Waiotapu, follow the Waikite Valley Road for about 5 km to the Waikite Valley Thermal Pools (where there is camping available). Continue on 1.5 km past the thermal pools and turn left onto Te Kopia Road and follow this past the Paeroa Thermal Bluffs and on to Lake Ohakuri. The Department of Conservation plans to develop a picnic area where the trail meets the lake.

The cycle trail ends at Lake Ohakuri. From here you can organize a shuttle back to Rotorua or to Taupo.


  • pathway of fire
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  • Thermal by Bike
  • Pathway of FIre2
  • Kerosene016
  • Rainbow017

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    Posted by OnSale, 28/02/2015 3:19am (1 day ago)

  • Did the Waikite Valley to Lake Ohakuri part of this ride lost!!! Got to a gravel road, followed it and it went on and on...! It seems we missed the turn off TRACK to the tip of the lake...needs better signage that's for sure! So first TRACK off to the right on the gravel road is it! Dead end! Where's the looping road that shows on the map?????

    Posted by Elaine from Tokoroa, 14/01/2014 5:59am (1 year ago)

  • Hi Kevin! Thanks HEAPS for the update on the trail status. We can't beat first hand updates like this and will be sure the trail heads see your feedback as well.

    Posted by Matt (NZByBike), 24/07/2012 2:03pm (3 years ago)

  • We were that way last weekend.

    There is a single lane concrete path from just past the Whaka car park to the Tamaki Village. Mainly runs parallel with the main highway and rather uninspiring.
    Plenty of signs that they are progressing well past there with the formed track and fencing in place for concete path laying for a further distance and appearing to head down and away from the highway towards the Waimangu Valley. That looks interesting going away from the main road.

    Still a long way from finished - say a little over 1/2 way to Waiotapu.

    From Waiotapu it goes down the Waikite Valley Rd (using the public road) and they would claim this is finished as there are cycleway plastic signs. However no works have been done on dangerous and narrow corners between Waiotapu and the Waikite Hot pools where there is reasonable amount of traffic.
    I feel they should have put an extra cycle lane in in selected safety issue places before "opening" this.

    Posted by Kevin, 24/07/2012 1:04am (3 years ago)

  • Unfortunately guys we are in exactly the same boat - we have not received any updates from the trail constructors or promoters as to when this trail might be completed or where they are up to.

    Posted by Dan Roberts(NZByBike), 14/05/2012 9:07pm (3 years ago)

  • Updates please? Looks like a great ride but struggling to find updates here or on the Nga Haerenga website.

    Posted by Natasha, 07/05/2012 1:33pm (3 years ago)

  • What sections of the train are open now - May 2012?

    Posted by Annette, 29/04/2012 5:40pm (3 years ago)

  • What sections of the trail will be open in March 2012?

    Posted by Karen, 31/08/2011 12:06pm (4 years ago)

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