Taupo- Great Lake Trail-Huka Falls-Craters MTB

Great Lake Trail-Taupo

Northern Lake  Taupo

Distance -15-73km Time 2 hours-2 days Grade 3 ( Intermediate)

With stunning lookouts and beautiful bays for swimming or picknicking, this track is simply the best land-based way to explore the northern half of Lake Taupo.

From Taupo township, theadventure begins with a short drive to one of three trailheads. Choosetobike one, two, or all three stages of the Great Lakes Trail depending on how much time you have. All three provide relatively easy mountain biking through an interesting volcanic landscape of native forest, large rock outcrops and welcoming bays on the shores of New Zealand’s largest lake.

Those keen to ride the Great Lake Trail from the Western Bays Road to Taupo township need to arrange a boat to take them between two sections. The whole journey is 61km of fantastic single track plus 12km of road riding via Acacia Bay back into Taupo.


Stage 1: W2K and Headloop , Kinloch

24km ( or 15km without the Headloop), 2-4 hours

This section has been open for a many years now, and it’s just got better with time! From Kinloch Domain, carefully follow the W2K marker posts through the marina and out of the village, Climb gently for about 7km onto the shoulder of Te Tuhi Point. At a signpost intersection, turn right to do the Headland Loop it is 10km long, and there are two good lookout spots of Lake Taupo on this way. When you rejoin the W2K track, turn left and fly back down to Kinloch. Alternatively, you could turn right and head down to Whakaipo Bay, but you’d have to be prepared for a long slog back or have an arranged a pick-up.

Stage 2: Whangamata Road to Kawakawa Bay and Kinloch

18km single track, plus 10km if you ride from Kinloch, 24 hours

There is no firm consenuson the best direction to ride this stage. If you love single track and hate road riding, then ride it there and back from Kinloch or arrange a shuttle. We made it a loop trip by road riding from Kinloch to the start of the track 30 minutes away.

From Kinloch, follow the road you drove in on back to Whangamata Road  that’s 2.6km, but you could take the Whangamata Track instead( you find it as you head out of town, 200 metres down Lisland Drive). At Whangamata Road, turn left and ride 8km to a car park and shelter on your left. There is a squeeze barrier to negotiate, and then it’s 10km of sweet single track down to Kawakawa Bay. Apart from a couple of off-camber corners, it is just a perfect grade-3 trail. From Kawakawa Bay, the Bike Taupo pixies have upgraded an old tramping track to Kinloch, re-routing everything that was too steep. Its now an easy 3-km climb to a magnificant rocky lookout follows by a sweeping downhill ride. The single track for this stage totals 18kms and there a numerous good stopping points en route.

Stage 3: Western Bays Road to Waihora Bay

31 Kms, 3-6 hours

From Taupo, drive 54kms to Waihaha River Bridge on Western Bays Road. (close to Waihora Bay, Lake Taupo)  The track starts from the car park at the southern end of the bridge. Ride towards the lake before waving north through bush to Waihora Bay ( where Kotukutuku Stream joins the Taupo Lake) That is 31 kms of awesome single track. There is rest area, shelter and toilets at the bay.

Hopefully you’ve arranged for a water taxi to take you from Waihora Bay to Kawakawa Bay as the track ends here. Otherwise it’s a long way back to the road (31kms).

Fact File

Overview. At first, It’s not obvious how to tackle the Great Lake Trail. As its is marketed as one track, but in fact it’s three distinct sections. It likely the track will be extended.

How to get there: For Stage 1 and 2, it’s easist to drive to Kinloch Village 22kms from Taupo. Kinloch Domain has good parking toilets and cafe/store on the lake front. To do all three stages or even 1 and 2 sequentially , arrange a shuttle with Tread Routes or Great Lakes Shuttle below.

Boat transport can be arranged to and from Taupo with Chris Jolly Outdoors.

Riding surface 100% pumice single track

Special features: Lake Taupo is one of the largest volcanic lakes in the world. It is a popular holiday destination for boating, climbing, Biking Hiking Sky diving, Jet boating and Skiing close to Tongoriro National Park ( in winter).

Maps Waterproof maps for $3 from Top Gear Cycles in Tamamutu st. Taupo

Trail website

From www.biketaupo website:  Bike Taupō’s MTB tracks are well renown and accredited by the International Mountain Bike Association (IMBA) as a Silver Ride Centre, the first in NZ. This confirms our MTB tracks are world class. Most tracks can be ridden year round as the free draining pumice soil surface means that even in wet weather there is normally little or no mud.

We are proud to have built the Great Lake Trail, part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail (NZCT) network. The 71 kilometre trail flows through native forest, following the western shore of beautiful Lake Taupō and offering stunning views across to Tongariro National Park, a dual World Heritage area. Riders will have the option of riding the full trail over 2 – 3 days or opt for a range of shorter rides depending on their level of experience and the time available.

Support Services!

Taupo there is plenty of accommodation in Taupo “the adventure capital of the North Island”  Book at (opening 1.04.2018) or at also for shops including bike shops.

E-Bike/Cycle Rentals (E-Bikes specialists) ph 0800 400 900  Book at or contact us at

Taupo Bike Shops Top Gear Cycles19 Tamamutu St  ph 07-377 0552 Bike Barn Taupo cnr Horomatngi and Ruapehu St  07-378 7381

Tread Routes for transport  and guides 07 377 8319 or  027 446 2408

Great Lake Shuttle (Taupo to start of the trail) 021 656 424 (approx $40 Bike from Whakaipo Bay to Whangamata Road).

Adventure Shuttles to trails around  Taupo or 022 547 0399

Chris Jolly Outdoors can take 14 people and 11 bikes to the bays on the trail. cost approx $75/ person from Waihora Bay to Kawakawa Bay  07-378 0632

Kinloch: General Store ,cafe and a small range of accommodation options


The Huka Falls Loop -Taupo


Grade 2+ Time 1-2 hours+ Distance 12km to Huka Falls and back

There are several great mountain bike tracks on either side of the Waikato River between Taupo and Huka Falls.The most popular is the Rotary Ride to Huka Falls. From Huka Falls, you can cross the bridge and go back to Taupo on the Redwoods Track. Alternatively, you can continue down valley to Aratiata Dam9 see Aratiata Dam Loop below) There is also a good single track linking Huka Falls to the Craters MTB Tracks

Track conditions: 80% single track, 20 % sealed road

Maps: Pick the Bike Taupo map for $5 from either a local bike shop or Hub Kitchen( beside the Thermal Explorer Highway, near Huka Falls).

You can be accessed from several places in and around Taupō.  The closest access from town is through Spa Park off Spa Road. The tracks undulate along the banks of the mighty Waikato River with stunning views of the crystal clear water. If you want to see the famous Huka Falls, view the Aratiatia Dam open or access the Craters MTB Park from town, then this is an awesome way to get there.

How to get there: Starting with the Rotary Ride, head northeast from downtown Taupo on Spa Road for afew minutes an turn left onto Country Ave ( there is a cycle path beside the road). from the car park at the end, you can just make out a Rotary Ride signpost straight ahead.

Route:  From the car park, the Rotary Ride is km of varied single track to Huka Falls, When you reach Huka Falls, be aware that there is a new bypass track in place, so you can either view the falls from above and thencarry staright on to Aratiatia Dam, or turn left and drop down to the falls for a closer look. From Huka Falls, return to Taupo on the Redwoods Track.Cross the falls bridge and turn left to enter a single track at the end of the car park. The track leads you back to Huka Falls Road. Immediately across the road, you will find the start of Kev’s Track. At the top of the hill, turn left onto the 2.5-km Redwoods Track, which pops out onto Huka Falls Road again about 2km from Town.Turn right, climb back to the Thermal Explorer Highway, then hang a left to cycle back to town along the concrete cycle path that runs beside the highway. The other popular choice from Huka Falls is to cross the bridge and head right on a single track to climb to Hub Kitchen. From there, you can ride through a tunnel track to the Craters MTB Park. After a spin on Craters, return to Taupo via a cycle path described above.

Notes: There are toilets at Huka Falls and the Huka Falls car park is locked at 5.3pm daily.  visit for up todate info on these tracks.

Huka Trails – Taupō Guide to Tracks & Loop



Aratiatia Dam Loop**


Grade 3 Time 1-2 hours 15km loop

From Huka Falls, you can ride down one side of the Waikato River to Aratiatia Dam and back along the other side of the river

Track conditions: 90% single track, 5% sealed road, 5% gravel road.

Maps: Pick up the ‘Bike Taupo’map for $5 from either a local bike shop or Hub Kitchen ( beside the Explorer Highway near Huka Falls)

How to get there: Startby either driving to Huka Falls or riding via the Rotary Ride(see above)

Route: After checking out Huka Falls, backtrack 100 meters to take the Aratiatia Dam track. It starts with a short uphill and then eases as it follows the true right side of the river on a good-quality track down the valley.Just after riding under the new Highway 1 bridge, there is a short uphill before descending 6km to Aratiatia Dam. If your timing it right, you will see the impressive water flow when the dam gates open. During summer: the gates open at 10am, 12 noon,2pm and 4pm. During winter 10am, 12 noon and 2pm.   Cross the Aratiatia Dam, then immediately turn left past the Aratiatia power station, through a squeeze barrier, and onto an old dirst road. At the end, hop over a gate (carry the bike) and rise straight ahead. You will see the Wairakei power station on your left before riding under the new Highway 1 bridge to the top of the hill where there is a new rest area. At the far corner , you will find a meandering single track that leads to the Wairakei Steam Bridge. Straight after the bridge, turn left and follow the Bike Taupo signs through the  forest and past the beautiful green thermal stream to an intersection. Head right, uphill and ride behind the resort to a grassy signposted intersection and turn left. Yes LEFT! Then follow the MTB signs up onto Karetoto Road past the Volcanic Centre and on the Hub Kitchen Cafe. After a coffee break,  just 50 meters further, turn left down a signposted track toward Taupo. Which leads to Huka Falls within 5 minutes.

Note: Please no racing on these tracks as they are popular with bikers walkers and runners and alway pass on your left. There are toilets at Huka Falls. go to for up to date info on these tracks.

Craters MTB Park***

5km north of Taupo

Grades: 2-6 Time 1-4hours Distance up to 50km

Track conditions: 100% single track

This area is popular with Taupo riders as it’s close to town and provides lots of curly loop tracks at test your skills on. It’s good for any rider and any length of time. These sweet purpose-built single tracks weave through pine forests at one of New Zealand’s oldest and premier mountain bike areas.

Craters MTB Park – Wairakei Forest Guide to Tracks, Meeting Points and Loops

NB :The crater MTB Park  and the Huka Trails – Taupō are adjacent to each other and link into each other

Maps;  pick up a map for $5 from either the Hub Kitchen Cafe or any bike shop in Taupo

Landowners: Wairekei Tourist Park-permit required.

Other Users: Walkers, runners, forestry vehicles, equestrian- steer clear of the designated horse riding tracks.

How to get there: You can drive or ride from Taupo township. If  driving, head north on Thermal Explorer Highway ( the old Highway 1) for 5.5km and turn left into Karapiti Road. After a further 200 hundred metres, turn into the obvious mountain bike park car park, where there are toilets and  a mapboard. If riding, use the ‘Bike Taupo’ map to take the Rotary Ride to the Hub Kitchen beside the Thermal Explorer Highway.

Route: Assuming you rode to the Hub Kitchen, look for the start of the Tunnel Track, very close, It leads underneath the highway and across to the  main track system. The first track is Inward Goods, which leads to the Tourist Trap, and excellent starter. This will get you  to the main mountain biker’s car park where there is large mapboard( map of all tracks). From the car park, ride through the tunnel and generally uphill on Nail, Tank Stand Up, Tank Stand Down, up Incline and then down  the awesome Coaster. That is a great introduction, and you may want to do the Coaster many times. There are other tracks, lots of them! take Grinder to Deb’s seat. You have earned a rest and more importantly a long downhill. Rocket  down Mr and Mrs, followed by Better than P and the last section of Young Pines. This ends at a junction with a shelter and mapboard.If you are feeling great and keen for more, do an additional loop on Outback and the new Steamfield Track(9km). Which brings you back to the shelterand mapboard. Then finish with Incline and Coaster  to take you back to the car park.

Notes: You must be a member of Bike Taupo to ride at the Craters, Join online at or at Taupo bike shops, the Hub Kichen. You will get a tag to put on your bike. It is NZ$10 for a 7 day pass, NZ$40 annual pass and NZ$60 for annual family pass. This a commercial pine forest with many mature trees. Please observe track closures signs (as logging tracks have priority on close roads and could kill you)



Te Iringa**

27km southeast of Taupo

Grade 5 Time 1-2 days Distance 38km return

This ardous MTB Bike’n hike mission is a classic for lovers of mature native  forest who have REALLY good fitness and bike handling skills

Turn right of Highway 5 ( Napier-Taupo Road) 27 km southeast of Taupo and drive down Taharua Road. After 9.5km, turn right on Clements Mill Road. Stop at the car park 6.5km down the road.

the Semi-ridable track climbs 330m from the car park to a clearing where the old Te Iringa Hut used to be,  Then skirt around Te Iringa (1241m) before dropping down to a swing bridge  just downstream from the junction of the Tikitiki Stream and Kaipo River. Cross the swing bridgeand take the main track down Kaipo Valley toward Oamaru Hut ( 12 bunks) by the confluence of the Kaipo and Oamaru rivers. This is a big day with  technical riding, so we suggest you stay at the hut overnight and soak up the widerness rather than racing back. From  here, you have to head back the same you came as all others tracks are closed to Bikers.

Notes: Take map NZTopo50 BH37 Rangitaiki.

The track through Poronui Station along the poled route to Taharua Road crosses private land and is not open to mountain bikers.

Great Lake Walkway*

Here is one for kids and grandparents or learners. It does not get any easier than this.

Grade 1 Time 1-2 hours Distance 10km one way

the Walkway starts next to the Yacht Club on Ferry Road, at the end of a line of  car parks, There is a small sign at the start. Follow the path along the Lake Taupo water front. You will pass the Taupo Hole in One .a coffee cart and many picnic tables and public toilets etc. After 4kms there is bar and cafe onthe docks.Three kilometres further  you will pass the Wharewaka Reserve  ans shortly after enter the Five Mile Bay  Recreational Reserve. There is a car park at the end of Tawhaa Street if you want to start at the southern end of the Walkway. the official Walkway ends at the south end of Five Mile Bay residential area however there are plans to extend it (so it may be longer when you ride it). Head back the way you came ( a total of at least 20kms return)

Notes; This path is narrow in places and is often congested during  holidays. Ninety percent of the track is flat and sealed.

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