We have an outdoors culture here and it is never more self-evident than when you take a trip out to the forest.
Mind you, even in the city you can tell because just about every second vehicle has a bike or bikes on the back. Sometimes 4 or 5.
The Whakarewarewa trails located at Waipa cater to everyone from:
tiny tots to grandparents
leisure riders to hard core downhill racers
Also expect to see:
dogs (taking their owners out)
Apart from the hard-core bikers you would expect to see, look out for young parents with little ones on teeny-tiny bikes. Sometimes their little bikes are attached to the back of mum or dad's bike. So cute.
Over the years I have also noticed a LOT more cyclists not in the first flush of youth anymore (ok, I'll put my hand up, that includes me) so if you are older; come on out… come on… you know you want to do it… no need to be shy. It's great fun, believe me.
Not a problem. Rotorua has a Mountain Bike Skills Clinic. A girlfriend of mine did the basic Phundamentals Clinic and her confidence improved out of sight. She roams over the hills on her bike for hours at a time now.
Children can also do the clinics but if they are under 13yrs they will need to be accompanied by an adult. (There is quite a bit of theory involved).
Rotorua Mountain Biking Young guy practising his bike skills
The Mountain Bike Skills Clinic says that '…as long as you can stand up on two legs you'll fit right in'.
There are Women's Only Phundamental Clinics if you are shy or… you don't want to worry about any men getting antsy… as they do huh?
If you are serious about mountain biking and want to learn more, in addition to the Phundamentals which everyone has to do there is also the Trailmaster Clinic and Downhill Clinic.
Strange sounding things that I don't even want to think about are covered off… like jumping, bunnyhops, pumping on rollers, weighting and unweighting over obstacles, ruts, chutes, off camber… the mind boggles.
The current pricing for the Mountain Bike Skills Clinics can be found on their website. Go into 'Read More' for further information on the particular clinic you are interested in and for the pricing, times etc.
Can you see it? One of the many tracks used for Rotorua mountain biking.
There are all sorts of mountain bike tracks, forestry roads and trails out in the forest with weird and wonderful names.
How about No Brains, Ball & Chain, Little Red Riding Huck and Sweet & Sour just to name a few. There are heaps more which you can check out at www.riderotorua.com
Click on any of the trail names to find out the Grade of track (they go from easy up to Grade 6 which would only be for very experienced riders), also how long the trail is and a little bit about the actual trail.
The Rotorua Mountain Bike Club along with Red McHale and the guys doing community service do a heck of a lot of work on these trails; maintaining and creating new ones so kudos to them for that.
They have created something that is truly remarkable and beneficial to not only the community but also our visitors.
If you head south from the Rotorua city center you will go past Te Puia on the left (can't miss it… big white concrete wall) and come to a gradual rise in the road.
The turnoff to Waipa State Mill Rd (where the mountain biking is) is on the left about 50m (160ft) over and down the other side of this rise.
Turn in here and the main Rotorua mountain biking carpark is on your left about 100m (328ft) in. If you zoom in on the google directions map you will see a 'P'. That's your stop.
You can't miss Mountain Bike Rotorua anyway, it's plonked pretty much on the side of the road with a big sign.
Rotorua Mountain Biking Secondary Carpark at Hill Rd
If there is an event on you can continue along the road to where I have marked the map with a 'B'. This is a secondary parking area where you can enter the forest via Hill Rd.
You will be parked on a hard right-hand corner either side of the road. You will see a gate across the road you arrived on - you don't want that one - look for a forestry road gate (gravel road); that's Hill Rd - straight ahead in the photo. Just ride around the gate to gain entry.
If you enter on the left-hand side of the gate you will see a large deep hole in the ground. I've been in there… head first… off my bike… and it had a canopy of blackberry vines covering it at the time.
It wasn't pretty to say the least so you can see why I mainly stick to the roads. I'm far too accident prone.
Not far inside the gate there is a big map of the biking trails and roads. This will give you a good overview of the area if you haven't got a map. Hopefully you have.
15mins should get you to the forest from the city center.
There is plenty of parking at Waipa but on the weekends, during the summer holidays or when an event is on it CAN get mad out there.
The toilet facilities aren't the best. There are portaloos beside the carpark with more brought in if there is an event taking place. Big changes are in the works at the moment with proper toilets on the way.
If you're caught out in the forest it will be au naturel I'm afraid. You could always be like some of my friends who are never without toilet paper.
If this isn't enough for you check out what else you can do here.
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