Rotorua Mountain Biking
Our guide to the premier biking region in New Zealand
In competition with its southern cousin, Queenstown, Rotorua is a keen contender as New Zealand’s leading mountain biking destination. With an annual bike festival, world-class championship competitions, the Thermal By Bike trail (74km through geothermal landscape) and more than 90km of trails through Whakarewarewa forest, it’s easy to see where the confidence in Rotorua mountain biking comes from.
Rotorua Bike Festival:
From its inception in 2013 the Rotorua Bike Festival has been instrumental in carving out Rotorua’s identity as the leading mountain biking region of New Zealand. The ten day festival is pitched at everyone from extreme downhill-ers to tentative beginners and offers a whole host of activities, interactive workshops and competitions. The programme is full to bursting for curious spectators, families and small children as well as the expected legions of biking enthusiasts.
This beautiful wooded hive of outdoors activity is home to over 90km of mountain bike trails. Terrain varies from flat to challenging with all levels of riding catered for. It is easy to plan your routes in advance and, if need be, start off with something gentle and build yourself up to ride faster, steeper and more adrenalin-pumping trails. You can fly downhill or take more leisurely cross country routes. You will weave through native ferns and towering canopies of Eucalyptus, Larch and Redwood trees.
Bikers can catch glimpses of Rotorua’s famous geothermal activity, take pit-stops in refreshing lakes and admire the dome of moody Mount Tarawera. Read our regional guide for more details about Whakarewarewa Forest and the hiking, horse riding and other activities on offer.
MTB Gravity Park:
Take the Skyline Rotorua Gondola bike lift up and then enjoy one of the 8.5km network of world-class trails back down. The Gondola cabins take up to four bikes and riders at a time and half-day, full-day and multi-day passes are available. Bike trails are suitable for a range of abilities.
Rotorua Mountain Bike Club:
Jointly responsible for upgrades and maintenance of mountain bike tracks in Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua Mountain Bike Club is an integral part of Rotorua’s mountain biking scene. Rotorua MTB Club organises a monthly trail maintenance volunteer session dubbed "Working Bees" on the first Sunday of every month.
It is this community spirit and notion of shared responsibility which raises Rotorua’s game in the mountain biking stakes; there is a real passion for mountain biking that is evident in people’s willingness to get elbow-deep in mud and dirt, to help shape these trails for generations to come and visitors to enjoy. Even if you are not a Rotorua local, it’s well worth checking out what’s happening at Rotorua MTB Club to see if there’s anything you can get involved in. A great way to meet locals and share your biking passion.
NZ Cycle Trail - Thermal By Bike:
New Zealand is taking itself increasingly seriously as a premier mountain biking destination and so a nationwide effort has seen the creation of the NZ Cycle Trail. Rotorua’s contribution is the 74km Thermal By Bike (Te Ara Ahi) trail dubbed "The Pathway of Fire".
This two day trail will take you from Rotorua to the Orakei Korako thermal area on the Waikato River. You will pass through and explore geothermal parks and reserves such as Te Puia, Wai-O-Tapu, Waimangu Volcanic Valley, Waikite Hot Pools and the Te Kopia Geothermal Field. You will ride through native forests, past lush lakes and unique geothermal features such as boiling mud, rainbow-bright spectrum of colours, soaring geysers, clouds of sulphur and natural hot springs and pools. This landscape is otherworldly and a rare, exciting opportunity to combine mountain biking with such awe-inspiring aspects of nature.
Mountain Bike Rotorua and Planet Bike offer guided tours on Rotorua’s mountain biking trails. You will find high-spec fleets with full suspension, all the safety gear including full face helmets and shin, knee and elbow pads. Tours typically include drop-off and pick-up transport and forest concession fees and vary from 2 hours to half days to multi-day trips.
Mountain Bike Rotorua is co-owned by Multi-Day Adventures so they also offer mountain biking combos with white water rafting and kayaking. They even venture as far as World Heritage site Tongariro National Park. Mountain Bike Rotorua and Planet Bike also offer bike mechanics, bike hire, bike and accessories retail and forest information.