IntroductionExplore the remote bush, cliffs and waterfalls of the Western Bays of Lake Taupō. Normally accessible only by boat, these trails take you through a variety of landscapes with fantastic lookout points.
Walking time: 3 hr 30 min
Mountain biking: 1 hr 30 min
Distance: 13 km
From the Waihāhā River carpark on Western Bay Road (SH 32), the trail follows the river for a few hundred metres before it crosses the river on a swing bridge. The trail then gently climbs up the river onto the cliffs above, following the course of the river to the end of Waihāhā Road.
The trail has great views of the Waihāhā River canyon and the iconic Tieke Falls. It is surrounded by tanekaha-dominated native bush and large outcrops of weathered volcanic rocks.
Return via the same track, organise a shuttle from the Waihaha Road end, or continue on to the Waihora Track.
Walking time: 4 hr walk one way
Mountain biking: 2 hr mountain bike one way
Distance: 17 km
This trail begins at the end of Waihāhā Road off SH 32.
The trail passes volcanic rock formations, lush native bush and a number of fantastic lookout points perched on cliffs at the edge of Lake Taupō. The final descent down the Kotukutuku stream via bridges, platforms and boardwalks to the beach gets you up close to the waterfall and the abundant native fuschia (kotukutuku).
This is a great spot for a rest (there is a toilet here), a picnic on the beach or even a swim.
This track ends at the lake edge in Waihora Bay; return via the same track, or pre-arrange a boat transfer on to Kawakawa Bay or Kinloch.
What to expect
The Great Lake Trails are an Intermediate: Grade 3 mountain biking experience. You can expect to encounter:
- steep uphill and downhill sections
- narrow sections
- steep drops next to the track
- trees fallen across the track, particularly after high wind or heavy rain
- mud and loose rocks on the track
- people and dogs on the track, as it is shared used
- quick changes of weather.
Skills/experience you need
To enjoy the Great Lake Trails, you need the experience and skill to handle an Intermediate: Grade 3 trail.
Check the biking times and the elevation profile on the Great Lake Trail map (PDF, 10,641K) to make sure you have the fitness for your trip. If you would like a shorter alternative to the full trail, sections of the track can be ridden as day or half-day trips.
How to plan/prepare
- Check the Great Lake Trails website or social media for the current status and any alerts.
- The trail is not suitable for road bikes or trail bikes, you will need to use a mountain bike (or an e-mountain bike). Pack a repair kit for your bike and know how to use it.
- Cell phone coverage is patchy, so consider packing a distress beacon
- The weather changes fast so check the forecast and pack plenty of warm and waterproof clothes
- Follow the mountain bikers code: respect others, respect the rules, respect the track