The W2K section of the Great Lake Trail starts from Kinloch and loops over the eastern peninsula of Whangamata Bay and into Whakaipo Bay. This section has two distance options. The simple loop is a gentle grade 2-3, 13km in length, with a few scenic stops along the route. The headland loop adds on an additional 9.5km and is a little more physical than the main route. The ducking and diving through the trees as the trail twists lengthens the route, but you will find yourself out on the edge of the peninsula with stunning vistas over Lake Taupō.
Before setting out be sure to organise your transport back to Kinloch from Whakaipo Bay. There is road access into the bay, so dropping a vehicle there is an option or book a shuttle to pick you up. The other option is booking a water taxi to collect you off the shores of the bay and jet you back around to Kinloch. Alternatively you can ride this section from Whakaipo Bay to Kinloch.
At the Kinloch Domain you will find a shelter with a map and bike washdown area. Start riding the W2K section of the Great Lake Trail from here. Follow the markers around the marina, along the lakefront and then up a gully to Boojum Dell.
The W2K trail heads up the hill from here, climbing steadily up through native bush and onto the headland, providing spectacular views across Lake Taupo to the mountains of Tongariro National Park as well as back down to Kinloch. Once on top of the headland the trail starts a long, flowing descent down to Whakaipo Bay.
Headland Loop (optional)
From this point at the top of the headland, there is the optional Headland Loop, a 9.5 km trail that follows the top of the Whangamata Bluffs out to the end of the headland then back around the other side to the point at which you started. There are more stunning views to be had from this trail out towards the Kaimanawa Ranges, the Karangahape Cliffs and Tongariro National Park to the south. There is also a short lookout trail off this loop that offers views of Kinloch and Whangamata Bay.
From the Headland Loop junction, head on down the long, flowing descent through the bush to Whakaipo Bay. This beautiful bay is a very popular swimming and picnic spot with its crystal clear water and wide open spaces.
If you are travelling in a self contained vehicle, overnight stays are allowed at the Whakaipo Bay Recreation Reserve. There is a maximum stay of 4 nights in any single calendar month. Toilets are available at the reserve and a fire ban is in place all year round.
Car parking is available at both ends of the trail, or you can arrange for a shuttle to pick you up if you don’t want to ride the return trip.
From Taupō, drive 21 km to the Kinloch Domain in Kinloch village (next door to the Kinloch Store and Tipsy Trout Café). You can leave your car here. The trail starts at the eastern end of the village and is a short ride from the carpark. Make sure you arrange for your shuttle pick up at the other side of the trail to return you to Kinloch.
If you are riding the trail from west to east, you can leave your car at Whakaipo Bay and arrange for a shuttle from Kinloch to return you to your vehicle.
|Distance||13km (plus optional 9.5km for the Headland Loop track)|
|Time||2.5-3.5 hours cycling | 6 hours walking|
|Direction||The trail can be ridden in both directions.|
|Access, transport & guides||Park your vehicle in Kinloch or Whakaipo Bay and arrange for your shuttle or water taxi to pick you up at the end of the track. Alternatively you can ride back the way you came.|
|Water taxi||A pre-booked boat transfer is available from Whakaipo Bay and Kinloch. Bookings are essential.
|Dog access||Yes, dogs allowed|
|Trails nearby||Kawakawa section and Waihaha section of the Great Lake Trail.|