Kawakawa Section, Great Lake Trail

Key Information :

Distance 19.5km
Grade 3
Time Required  2.5-3.5 hours cycling. 6 hours walking
Phone Coverage  Intermittent
Toilets At start and end of the section
Shuttle Park your vehicle in Kinloch and arrange for your shuttle to drop you off at the start of the Kawakawa section.
Water Taxi Pre-booked boat transfer available from Kawakawa Bay to Kinloch for those wishing to complete the first 10.25 km only of this section. A great option for those with low fitness levels or for children. Bookings are essential. 


Interactive Google Map :

Click on the icons of this Google Map below to view more information about the Kawakawa section of the Great Lake Trail such as start and end points and lookout spots.



Kawakawa Section of the Great Lake Trail

Click here for the full map.

Kawakawa Section Profile

Kawakawa Section Description :

At the Orakau carpark, you will find a shelter with a map, information board and a toilet. From here, the trail follows the beautifully clear Orakau Stream thorugh regenerating native bush and past Harakakeke (native flax) wetlands down towards Kawakawa Bay. You will ride across boardwalks, past waterfalls and over ravines as the trail makes its way down towards the lake shore.

This trail is a dream to ride with the generally downhill profile of the first half lending itself to beautifully laid out corners and berms, giving it incredible flow. The trail boasts some stunning scenery and native birdlife – tuis and bellbirds in particular – and there are seats along the way at the best vantage points, so you can rest your legs while taking in the view.

As you near the beach at Kawakawa Bay you will cross two bridges that span some really deep ravines. It’s worth stopping and peering over the sides as the ravines are quite spectacular. After 10.25 km you will emerge onto the beach at the stunning Kawakawa Bay. There are views across the lake to the mountains of Tongariro National Park, and during summer this is the perfect place for a swim in the clear blue waters of Lake Taupo.

A shelter and campsite lies in a clearing at Kawakawa Bay, and you will often see rock climbers here. There is a long drop toilet available but no cooking facilities on site. Please bring your own tent and light no fires.

During summer, Kawakawa Bay is also frequented by boaties and walkers who have come over from Kinloch, so please remember this is a two way track if you are riding over to Kinloch.

From Kawakawa Bay, a 3km switchback climb will take you up onto the Te Kauwae headland before you begin the fast and flowing descent down to the village of Kinloch. Your climbing efforts will be rewarded by magnificent, sweeping views from the top of the hill up towards the western bays. Once down the other side, the trail emerges on the lake front in Kinloch where it continues along the lake shore on a grassy path before reaching the carpark opposite the Kinloch Domain.

There is a shelter and bike wash area on the Kinloch Domain. Make sure you head straight over to the Kinloch Store for a woodfired pizza (in summer) or their famous Grand Loch burger, or hit the Tipsy Trout for a beer, coffee or gourmet meal.

If you want to continue riding after completing the Kawakawa trail, you can carry on from Kinloch and ride the W2K section of the Great Lake Trail over to Whakaipo Bay.


Getting to the Kawakawa Section:

From Taupo, drive 30 km to the Orakau carpark on Whangamata Road, 11.3 km from the Kinloch turn off. You can leave your car here or arrange to be dropped off by a shuttle service.


Towering volcanic rock cliffs, spectacular views and a waterfall hidden deep in the Waihaha Valley are highlights of the Waihaha section


W2K climbs steadily up through native bush and onto the headland, providing spectacular views across Lake Taupo


Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about the riding the Great Lake Trail

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