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Taupō short family-friendly bike rides

by Ceana Priest | Outdoor Kid

Smooth trails await on these four family-friendly biking adventures in the Taupō region (plus a bonus location).

From exploring the sparkling shoreline of Lake Taupō to pedalling past trout-filled rivers, these family-friendly adventures are a great way to experience the region on two wheels. And the best part? Thanks to the free-draining soils of the volcanic plateau, you can enjoy rideable surfaces year-round. So, whether you're a seasoned cyclist or a newly minted rider, there are plenty of local trails to conquer.

Whangamata Stream Trail | Kinloch

This little adventure is a crowd-pleaser with its wide, flat forest trails, whimsical fairy houses, and plenty of post-ride swimming opportunities. And it's only a 20-minute drive from Taupō. Don't worry about skill levels - the flat trail suits everyone, even wobbly youngsters still mastering two wheels. Pedal beneath towering trees lining the dirt path before taking a breather at the replica water wheel.

Whangamata Stream Trail

Keep your eyes peeled for trout milling about in the clear-flowing Whangamata Stream, an important trout spawning spot from April to November. Older kids can detour onto a short pump track before everyone arrives at the fairy glade. Finally, the trail winds back to the shoreline of Lake Taupō for a refreshing dip. Bring a picnic or refuel the troops with ice creams and snacks from the Kinloch General Store.

Need to know:

  • Easy grade.
  • Allow 60 minutes return.
  • Plenty of parking and toilets at Kinloch village, 20 kilometres from Taupō.
  • Dogs on leads.
  • Suitable for buggies.

Tongariro River Trail | Tūrangi

Jump in the saddle for an adventure alongside the meandering Tongariro River near Tūrangi. Fifteen kilometres of smooth trails weave through picturesque native forests and past sprawling farmland – ideal for families wanting a dose of nature. Pause on the swing bridges suspended over the river to watch anglers try their luck with some of the wiliest trout.

There's only one challenging climb on this mainly flat trail, but efforts are rewarded with stunning views of Mount Pīhanga and the southern shoreline of Lake Taupō. Don't miss visiting the nearby Tongariro National Trout Centre, where you can try your hand at fishing during the school holidays or feed rainbow trout year-round.

Tongariro River Trail swing bridge

But if you are pressed for time or have younger adventurers, there's a shorter option taking 30 to 45 minutes that still crams in plenty of highlights. Starting at Taupahi Reserve, bike south along the river path before crossing the Major Jones suspension bridge and turning north to complete the loop.

Need to know:

  • Allow a couple of hours to complete the entire circuit.
  • Dogs on leads.
  • An easy starting point is at Taupahi Reserve Park on Taupahi Road.
  • Bike south along the river path before crossing the river at Red Hut Bridge and returning on the other side.
  • Tūrangi is a 50-minute drive from Taupō.

Great Lake Pathway | Lake Taupō Marina

Whether you have a quarter-hour or several hours to spare, enjoy easy pedalling beside the clear waters of Lake Taupō on the Great Lake Pathway. The 10-kilometre-long trail begins at the bustling marina in town, winding past small secluded bays before reaching Waitahanui. But with plenty of access points along the out-and-back pathway, you can easily shorten the ride for younger family members.

Lion's Walk along the Great Lake Pathway

It's also an ideal option for riders who have just whipped off the trainer wheels. Take in vast views south of the Tongariro National Park's mighty trio of volcanoes before a refreshing dip in the lake. Alternatively, warm your toes in the thermally heated sands of Taharepa Reserve. Feeling peckish? Swing by Two Mile Bay Sailing Club for some tasty wood-fired pizza.

For a 30-minute adventure, park next to the Two Mile Bay boat ramp and cycle south along the shoreline before letting the kids run wild on the Wharewaka Point/Four Mile Bay playground.

Need to know:

  • Plenty of toilet facilities and drink fountains along the way. Dogs on leads.
  • Suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.

Taupō Pump Track | Taupō

For some of the smoothest berms and rollers in town, visit the Taupō Pump Track for some seriously fun action on two wheels.

The new Taupō Pump Track

Older kids can loop around the pump track while younger riders can tear around the nearby bike-skills area on their scooters, trikes and bikes. Relax on the grassy mounds while watching the kids navigate the traffic lights, pedestrian crossings and roundabout.

Need to know:

  • Car park entrance off Crown Park, Crown Road.
  • No facilities.

Rotary Ride | Spa Thermal Park, Taupō

Feeling like there's more in the tank? This intermediate trail heads north from Spa Thermal Park and loosely follows the Waikato River before reaching the mighty Huka Falls. Climbing through native bush onto a ridge and dipping through gullies, it's a more challenging trail and suits kids more experienced in the saddle. From the tops of high bluffs, there are stunning views across the river and countryside.

At Huka Falls, either return to Spa Thermal Park for a soak in the geothermal waters of Otumuheke Stream or cross the Waikato River to ride the trails alongside Wairakei Drive back into town.

Taupō Bike Park at Spa Thermal Park

If the urge to grab some serious BMX air-time strikes, take a few rounds on the epic Taupō Bike Park, also known as the Spa Park Jumps, which locals have built. Located near the entrance to Spa Thermal Park.

Need to know:

  • Intermediate | Grade 3.
  • Allow 45 min one-way.
  • Toilets at Spa Thermal Park.
  • Dogs on leads.
  • Plenty of parking at Spa Thermal Park, Country Avenue, Taupō.

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