10 Best Bike Rides

The Great Lake Taupo region is the biggest riding hub of the New Zealand's North Island. There are a huge range of rides suitable for all levels. Taupo and Turangi are the ideal places to base yourself for your next mountain biking adventures.

Great Lake Walkway

Distance 20.8km return
Grade 1

Great Lake Walkway, voted NZ's Best Urban Ride in 2017

From Taupo township you can ride and walk along the lakefront right out to Five Mile Bay, on a fully paved pathway. This is riding at its most basic level—even tots with training wheels can cope with this ride.

The fairly flat track has plenty of stop off points for breaks, coffee and ice-cream, swims and photo opportunities, and there is a lovely playground and picnic area at Wharewaka Point. Find out more about the Great Lake Walkway here.

Tongariro River Trail

Distance up to 15km
Grade 2

Tongariro River Trail, Turangi

A scenic looped ride along both sides of the Tongariro River in Turangi, with some awesome native bush and cool views into the clear waters of the river. This is a gentle ride suitable for families wanting to spend a pleasant few hours either biking or walking.

The Tongariro National Trout Centre is a great place to break your journey, with lovely picnic areas and facilities on site. Find out more about the Tongariro River Trail here.

Craters Mountain Bike Park

Distance up to 50km
Grades 1-5

Craters Mountain Bike Park, Taupo

Craters MTB Park is a purpose-built mountain bike park located only a short distance from the Taupo town centre, with trails ranging from children’s entry level to technical cross country.

All trails run in and out of exotic pine and eucalyptus plantations, with some stunning views of Lake Taupo and the Waikato River. There are around 50km of trails to suit all abilities. Find out more about the Craters MTB Park here.

Great Lake Trail

Waihaha, Kawakawa and W2K
Distance 9.2km - 71km
Grade 3

View of Kawakawa Bay, Great Lake Trail

The Great Lake Trail is fast developing international acclaim as one of the best mountain bike rides in Australasia. The trail is part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail, and is made up of three sections that traverse the beautiful western shores of Lake Taupo. There are superb and uninterrupted views of Tongariro National Park and Lake Taupo.

Cyclists have the option of riding the full 71km trail over 2-3 days or choosing from a range of shorter rides depending on experience levels and time available. Built on free-draining pumice soil, the trails can be ridden year round with very little mud. Find out more about the Great Lake Trail here.

Huka Trails

Distance 30km return
Grade 3

Visit Huka Falls on the Huka Trails ride

From Taupo township you can ride all the way to Huka Falls and on to the Aratiatia Dam, following the course of the Waikato River. The views of Huka Falls are spectacular. You can time your ride to Aratiatia to coincide with the dam release. There are tracks on both sides of the river, offering plenty of riding options. Find out more about Huka Trails here.

Waikato River Trails

Distance 12km - 100km
Grades 1 - 3

Swing bridge over the Waikato River, Mangakino

The Waikato River Trails are varied in nature and very scenic. They have a real rural feel with a close connection to the Waikato River.

If you want an easier ride try Arapuni to Little Waipa reserve – the middle sections are a little technical and the last sections a little easier. The scenery and bridges on the trail are stunning and there are more and more facilities opening along the trail for users. Find out more about the Waikato River Trails here.

The Timber Trail

Distance 5km - 85km
Grade 3

The Timber Trail, Pureora Forest Park

The 85km Timber Trail makes its way through the ancient forests of Pureora Forest Park, across the ancestral lands of local Maori and along an old tramway. Ride the historic Ellis and Burnand Tram and cross the longest suspension bridge on any cycle trail; a whopping 140 metres.

This backcountry trail showcases several beautiful species of native birds that you may not see anywhere else in New Zealand, and the bush they inhabit is stunning. This trail is a dream overnight mission for outdoor enthusiasts with a sense of adventure. Find out more about the Timber Trail.

Tree Trunk Gorge

Distance 19km
Grade 3

Tree Trunk Gorge

About an hour south of Taupo, this gem of a ride is just off the Desert Road. It has river crossings, rocks and awesome beech forest riding.

You can turn around at the Pillars of Hercules and ride back the same way, or take the more challenging track back out to the State Highway and ride back along the road a few kilometres to your starting point. Find out more about Tree Trunk Gorge here.

42 Traverse

Distance 40km - 50km
Grade 3

42 Traverse

This remote and rugged adventure ride through what used to be known as State Forest 42 is best ridden during summer, but when the mountains have snow on them you get some stunning views.

The unmaintained 4WD trail can have some decent ruts and washouts on it so take your time. In the wet it can be challenging so make sure you’ve got appropriate tyres and all the spare gear for adventure riding. Find out more about the 42 Traverse here.

 Te Iringa

Distance 38km
Grade 5

Technical riding on Te Iringa

Te Iringa, in the Kaimanawa Forest Park, is renowned for its technical riding. While the trail had a significant upgrade in 2015, it still has long carry sections and should only be attempted by expert riders, or those who have plenty of gear to stay out overnight. 

If you are into the outdoors and love mountain biking on some of the most technical trails in New Zealand, then this is a trail you must tick off your bucket list. Find out more about Te Iringa here.

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