Did our article on the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge get you a little curious? The second best way to see what awaits you on the 160km route around Lake Taupo is to watch this video of the entire course. The circuit’s been compacted into 21 minutes of video, mostly in ‘fast forward’ mode, at a speed designed to provide a close up view of the course profile without becoming a feature length film.
The road surface around the lake is good and although they are open roads on race day, there is plenty of signage warning other road users of the event; even the logging companies get a call are are ask to keep away from the course. In the video, the seven water point locations are marked as are the three transition areas for relay riders.
The altitude profile in the video provides a idea of the current location on the course.
Course Directions: 160km Solo and Relay
Starting from Taupo on Tongariro street, road cyclists head north along the State Highway (5) and turn left onto Poihipi Road. Elite cyclists and solo cyclists turn left onto Whangamata Road while relay cyclists continue on Poihipi Road and then left onto Marotiri Road (32) which becomes Tihoi Road. The first relay intersection is at the junction of Whangamata Road and Tihoi Road – the solo and relay riders then continue South South West along Tihoi Road which becomes the Western Bay Road (32).
Just after the 70 km mark there is the half-way relay transition point on Kuratau Hill for relay riders. Ten kilometres further on there is a left turn on State Highway 41 and another 15 kilometres of undulating terrain down to Waihi Bay. Turangi is on the 100km mark and the course profile remains relatively flat as it turns to follow the shoreline of Lake Taupo. From Turangi there is another left onto State Highway 1 and onto Motuoapa at about 115 km, the third and final relay transition.
With only 30 km to go from the 160km cycle challenge there is a rude shock as you leave the lake shore and Hatepe Hill makes you get out of your saddle for a grinding 150m ascent. With your destination, Taupo well in sight, Airport hill is but a bump, though after 145km it is a nasty little hill. Once you’ve conquered this and take the left turn at the Airport Hill roundabout continuing along the State Highway 1, it is plain sailing as the road becomes Lake Terrace / Thermal Explorer Hwy(5) and gives you a stunning entrance into town along the water front before a right turn onto the finish line.
Though the cross section of the altitude profile looks scary, a glance at the actual altitude gained and lost reveals that it is actually an undulating course. Hatepe Hill has a reputation for being a tough hill; after a relatively flat section of about 30km and with 130 kilometres on the tachometer, it will make you work, though it also rewards you with a lovely downhill.
You should be able to remain in the saddle during the first 100 kilometres, with the exception of a few short sharp climbs. Most of the route is made up of long straight sections broken by slow meandering curves, though in the second half, as the road comes closer to the lake, there are some wonderful tight curving roads that follow the shore and present fantastic views across the lake.
The Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge Course Profile was filmed on a GoPro Hero (original) mounted to a car. The original footage length is 2 hours.