5.5km one way – Spa Thermal to Huka Falls
7km one way – Huka Falls
This is Taupo’s classic scenic bike trail.Things to look out for along the way include the exclusive Huka Lodge, the mighty Huka Falls, the hydro-thermal power station and steam pipes, huka jet boat, the Aratiatia dam and rapids.
The main section of this trail is between Spa Thermal park in Taupo and the Huka falls, however you can continue along the river to the Aratiatia dam. There are also several possible extensions – continue around the Aratiatia dam loop or from the Huka Falls take a side trip to the popular Craters MTB park.
The trail commences at Spa Thermal park, winds through some pine forest that has recently been cleared, on through a ravine (so watch out for slips and erosion especially after heavy rain). After reaching a bluff the trail continues on undulating along the ridge with occasional vistas of wakiato river and huka lodge below. The trail spilts into one way sections several times but this is well signposted.
The huka falls are marked as a turn-off down the hill and it is well worth the detour down to take a close look even if you are heading on to the Aratiatia dam. From the huka falls the trail winds up a steep hill and continues on through bush until you reach the motorway underpass, there is the opportunity to take a detour to the huka jet boat base if you need refreshments. Past the motorway the path is less frequented by walkers and is a pleasant easy ride.
The Aratiatia rapids are a worthwhile detour at the dam – the dam is released at 10,12 and 2pm daily so it is worthwhile trying to time to your ride to view this as it is amazing to see how quickly the rapids fill with water.
Planning your trip
Consider bringing swimwear on a warm day since a dip in the river is a great way to freshen up. There is a thermal stream that feeds into the river at the Spa Thermal park – this is a lovely way to finish the ride with a hot soak to ease any aches and pains.
Getting there and away
The start of the trail is not far from the centre of Taupo. If you have two vehicles it is straightforward to do a car shuffle if you are only riding one way. Otherwise options include riding back to your start point or taking a shuttle:
Good quality bikes can also be hired from Great Lake Shuttles.
Navigation & Facitilies
Navigation is relatively simple with the trail-head well signposted. There are numerous side paths but the trail is well marked. The trail is shared with walkers so keep an eye out and be courteous when encountering other traffic.
Official website for trail: http://www.greatlaketaupo.com/things-to-do/biking/trails/rotary-ride/
There is a kiosk and toilets at the Huka falls car park and also refreshments are available across the river at the Huka falls jet boat base just before the motorway underpass.
We squeezed this ride in on a winters afternoon after a long drive so it was good to get some fresh air. It took roughly one hour from Spa Thermal Park to Aratiatia dam each way. The trail was a good way to test out our new 29″ mountain bike and we took turns riding the trail one-way swapping at the Aratiatia dam. Afterwards we took a soak in the thermal hot stream – a nice way to end a winter’s afternoon.