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Riding Taupo's thermal loop on an e-bike

The region of Taupo has endless places to explore - geothermal wonders, the iconic Huka Falls, the rolling hills, the majestic Tongariro National Park, the beautiful Lake Taupo. Everyone has their favorite way to explore the stunning natural outdoors of Lake Taupo from hiking to biking to swimming. Let this story of a hiker e-biking for the first time inspire you to see the Taupo region in a fun and unexpected way! 

The geothermal stream at the Wairakei Resort Track.

I knew what we were up against as we continued towards the Huka Falls Lookout.

As a tramper with my own two hiking boots, walking down this path, I loved it. I enjoyed the steep decline, intertwined roots, and view overlooking the Waikato River.

As a tramper on an e-bike for the first time, riding this path scared me . . .

But as I slowly descended on my e-bike, I began to let go.

I eased my hands off the brakes. I let myself feel the adrenaline of navigating my bike through the 45-degree downhill with the canyon on my right and the Waikato River on my left. Finally, we arrived down at the bottom to a stunning display of Huka Falls. Thousands of liters of foam mix perfectly into a culmination of white, emerald-green, and jewel-blue water. As an American living in Taupo for three years now, every time I see Huka Falls I understand it is a must-visit attraction here in New Zealand.

And one that I am re-experiencing on the back of an e-bike for the first time.

We were riding a local favorite, the Wairakei Thermal Loop. An eighteen-kilometer bike trail, the thermal loop features four of Taupo's scenic natural attractions. And with the guidance of Jonny Clapcott, bike guide, and owner of FourB, I was experiencing the trails and natural wonders in the greater Taupo area in a completely new and exciting way!

Huka Falls bridge lookout

Viewpoint #1 Huka Falls

For myself, e-biking was waaaaayyyy easier than I anticipated. E-bikes have an electric motor that assists and throttles you forward, allowing you to:

  • Easily scale uphills
  • Speed through rough terrain
  • Peddle faster on flats
  • Race downhill

The electricity pushed my bike forward as if it was driving itself, requiring little-to-no energy from my legs.

We rode to the Huka Falls bridge, right above 220,000 liters of water, witnessing its pure power before it rushed down the falls.

There is a reason why Huka Falls is the most visited natural attraction in New Zealand. I watched the thousands of liters of water escape into a kaleidoscope of colors. It forced me to be present at that moment, observing what nature has done for hundreds of years.

We stopped at another lookout on the biking trail-one I had never seen before. It was a higher and more spectacular view of the Huka Falls’ 20-meter drop, the "foam," and the mixture of colors that make Huka Falls is so famous!

Viewpoint #2 Huka Prawn Park

After the roaring waters of Huka Falls disappeared behind us, we sailed through the Aratiatia Dam Loop (part of the Huka Trails).

It was the perfect mix of flat terrain, easy downhills, and short inclines where I felt comfortable enough to let myself fly at full speed.

Huka Prawn Park

We came to a great overlook of Huka Prawn Park. A family-themed amusement park and the famous Riverside Restaurant, the prawn park is right next to the pristine Waikato River. We stopped at the perfect lookout to view all prawn park, the Waikato River's blue water, and the unique canyon surrounding it.

Aratiatia Rapids from above

Viewpoint #3 Aratiatia Dam & Aratiatia Rapids

Every tramper loves the familiar sense of calm when walking your favorite trail.

But darting in and out of the bush on an e-bike was a completely different sensation.

Uncovering the trail with a whole new perspective, I felt like a kid again, thrill & adventure engulfing my senses.

We arrived at ANOTHER captivating viewpoint in this loop, the Aratiatia Dam and the Aratiatia Rapids. The Aratiatia Dam opens each day during the winter months (Apr-Sept) at 10.00am, 12.00pm, and 2.00pm and on the summer months (Oct-March) at 10.00am, 12.00pm, 2.00pm, and 4.00pm.

Johnny from FourB recommends starting the e-bike loop an hour before the opening times to see the dam open and watch the whitewater flood over 90,000 liters per second!

A 5-minute walk or a 1-minute bike ride away is the Aratiatia Rapids. It was amazing to see the water flood over the rapids, falling 28 meters in the space of 1 kilometer. The sharp blue water, the rocky grey gorge, and the lush green trees are perfect examples of the dynamic landscapes you get to see on the Wairakei Thermal Loop.

Wairakei Resort Track

Viewpoint #4: A Jurassic Scene

The second half of the loop was a new experience for me as most hikers walk to the Aratiatia Dam and return the same way.

A welcome rest after the uphills and downhills of the trail's first half, I enjoyed the crisp, sunny day on a flat section passing farmland and blackberry bushes.

Soon we rounded a bend into a red tree forest, entering a scene that transported us back in time on the Wairakei Resort Track. The forest and the prehistoric ferns were the backdrops to an electric blue geothermal stream emitting a cloud of steam above the water. It was a scene straight from Jurassic Park as we bike along the geothermal stream (one that most people miss). If a dinosaur popped its head from the trees, it would not have been out of place.

I have explored many of Taupo's incredible hikes and natural scenery, but this hidden gem located on the expansive grounds of Wairakei Resort – a fantastic place to stay I might add - was something special. One of the most unique features of the Wairakei Thermal Loop, this stop was my favorite.


Do you think you've explored this destination?

The region of Taupo is where we come to enjoy, explore, and connect with the incredible nature that surrounds us - the geothermal booms, the roar of the Huka Falls, the rolling hills, the majestic Tongariro National Park, and the constant waves of Lake Taupo.

If you feel you have tramped the endless trails of this spectacular destination (like I thought I had) venture into them in an unexpected way. I never realized how e-biking changes your whole experience of the hidden wonders and natural attractions Great Lake Taupo has to offer. You get further than you ever have before, zip through forests and bush, and discover new sites on the back of a bike.

FourB has several guided bike tours and packages, making it:

  • Accessible to all types of riders (families, beginners, advanced)
  • Easy to explore all around Taupo
  • Simple to ensure you get the best experience of Taupo
  • Fun!

If you are a beginner and want some guidance, try a tour where FourB guides you on the track, assists you on how to best ride the e-bike, and share unique history at each amazing viewpoint.

As a tramper on the back of an e-bike, you may find a new fun way to re-experience your favorite trails and discover new ones in the greater area of Taupo. 

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