Waihaha Section, Great Lake Trail

Towering volcanic rock cliffs, spectacular views and a waterfall hidden deep in the Waihaha Valley are highlights of the Waihaha section. The trail has been built with flowing corners and fun downhills, and some short switchback climbs to keep you honest!

Key Information :

Distance 30km
Grade 3
Time Required  4-5 hours cycling. 7.5 hours walking.
Phone Coverage  Intermittent
Toilets At start and end of the trail
Shuttle Please arrange for your shuttle to drop you off at the start of the Waihaha section and for a water taxi to pick you up at the end of the track. 
Water Taxi Yes (from trail end to Kinloch). Book water taxi prior to departure. 


Interactive Google Map :

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



Waihaha Section of the Great Lake Trail

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Waihaha Section Profile


Waihaha Section Description:

At the Waihaha River carpark, you will find a shelter with a map and information board (note the toilet is 50m or so down the track). From here, the trail follows the river downstream for a few hundred metres before it crosses the river on a swingbridge. The trail then gently climbs up onto the cliffs above the river and follows the course of the river to the junction at the end of Waihaha Road. This first part of the trail has great views of the Waihaha River canyon and waterfall. Be sure to stop and view the beautiful Waihaha Waterfall from the trail above. The trail is surrounded by Tanekaha dominated native bush and large outcrops of weathered volcanic rocks.

At the junction at the end of the Waihaha Road you will see a directional sign (Waihaha Road is really a farm track that ends at the edge of the bush, so you won’t see a sealed road as such). The trail continues from here down to Kotukutuku Landing on what is known as the Waihora section of the trail. If you want a shorter ride, you can pre-arrange for transport to pick you up from the end of Waihaha Road, which is 13km from the start of the trail. Alternatively you can ride out Waihaha Road and turn left onto the main highway back to the trail start at Waihaha River Bridge, a distance of approximately 9.5km. 

From the Waihaha Road junction, the trail continues along towards Kotukutuku Landing. This section is extraordinarily beautiful with big blue skies and expansive views from the Waihora lookout across Lake Taupo to the majestic volcanoes of Tongariro National Park.

Ride amongst vast stands of Kamahi, through volcanic rock formations and past the intriguing Echo Rock before you start to descend down the Kotukutuku Stream via the unique engineering feat of bridges, platforms and boardwalks. You will emerge onto the beach in a tranquil bay where you will meet your pre-booked boat transfer across to Kinloch.  

Important Note:

Transport out from the end of the Waihaha section of the trail at Kotukutuku Landing is by pre-booked boat shuttle only. There is no trail link between the end of the Waihaha section and the Kawakawa section.


Getting to the Waihaha Section:

From Taupo, drive 57km (around 40 mins) to the Waihaha River Bridge on the Western Bays Road (State Highway 32). If you are coming from Kinloch, the bridge is 37kms (around 30 mins) away. The Waihaha track starts from the car park at the eastern side of the bridge.

Note: Be careful not to confuse the Waihaha Hut Track with the Waihaha section of the Great Lake Trail. The Waihaha section of the Great Lake Trail starts on the eastern side of the Waihaha Bridge and heads east down the Waihaha River, whereas the Waihaha Hut Track starts on the western side of the bridge and heads up the river. The two different trails are signposted.


Ride across boardwalks, past waterfalls and over ravines as the trail makes its way down towards the lake shore


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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