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Towering volcanic rock cliffs, spectacular views, lush native forest and hidden waterfalls deep in the valley are just some of the highlights on this section of the Great Lake Trail (GLT).
The longest and most remote part of the Great Lake Trails, the Waihaha section is known for its flowing corners, fun downhills and short switchback climbs. You can ride this 13km Grade 3 track on your own, but how about riding with a guide who can show you all the best viewpoints, must-sees and trail history along the way?
We spoke with Jonny Clapcott, owner of and guide for FourB, who specialise in mountain bike tours on some of the Taupo’s regions best trails. The FourB team know every corner, rock and tree of the Waihaha and love sharing the trail with visitors keen on an adventure!
The trail was constructed by Bike Taupo in 2006, and it was thanks to a certain hairy forest dweller that the team were able to locate the best path, Jonny explains; “Pigs knew best! Some of the Waihaha Trail follows old pig trails that were spotted from the air and then walked by the track crew. Simply put ’if ain’t broke, don’t fix it,’ and so the pig trails were cleaned up and became part of the bike trail.”
The trail development team then took to the skies to scope out the best points of interest and lookouts, to which the trail was built to ensure riders and walkers were able to easily access the best viewing areas. One of Jonny’s favourite scenic spots is the ‘cliff seat’ about 3km into the ride, with sweeping views over the lake and across to the Tongariro National Park – “From here you can look down to the right where some of the waterfalls and rivers feed into the lake and spot fishermen trying to catch some trout.” This is a popular stop on the trail for a quick bite to eat before the big climb that follows.
One of the iconic must-sees along the journey is what locals call ‘Echo Rock.’ A tall, overhanging rock face that presents a fun illusion! “… you stand underneath [the rock] and try to figure out where the river is. The sounds coming off the rock make it seem like you are standing under the river, but in fact it is reflecting the sound down to you from the river below.” An oddly satisfying activity, many riders have been found shouting at the rock face to hear their bounced-back voice. Echo Rock can be easily missed when riding on your own, but FourB always make sure their riders get a chance to experience this acoustic trickery.
If you want to make the most of this section of the Great Lake Trails, you can continue to the adjoining Waihora Trial for an extra 17km of glorious trail, a popular option for the FourB tour – just as beautiful and features bridges, platforms and boardwalks before ending on the edge of Lake Taupo where your prearranged water taxi will pick your crew up and cruise back on the water, giving you a chance to relax and take in the views across the lake.
As well as guided tours FourB offer return shuttles from Kinloch, Taupo and Whakaipo Bay, and mountain bike and e-bike hire.
Winding along the north-western shoreline of Lake Taupo you will find an epic mountain biking and walking adventure.