Herald on Sunday
MOUNTAIN BIKING AND MORE IN ROTORUA
Where to find thrill-seeking and indulgence
Over the past few years, mountain biking has become a central focus for our beautiful city. The Whakarewarewa Forest sits on Te Puia’s doorstep, creating a synergy that no other city can compete with. There is something pretty special about riding your bike through towering redwoods while passing by a bubbling mudpool.
The best kind of day in Rotorua is one with thrill-seeking and pampering rolled into one. You’re going to want to start with a coffee, so Revolver at Vetro is the place to go. Make sure you pick up one of their legendary almond croissants while you’re at it, this is called carbloading and a must-do before any good mountain-bike adventure.
If you’re in Rotorua with a bunch of mates, I’d recommend you get in touch with Tak and Tu at Mountain Bike Rotorua to organise a private shuttle. If you’re particularly lucky you’ll get the renowned Marcello as your host. They also have a public shuttle that runs most days and will get you to one of the highest points in the forest.
One of my favourite trails is Split Enz, the view from the top makes the climb worthwhile, and on a good day you can even glimpse Mount Ruapehu. Make sure you sign up as a Rotorua MTB Club member too. These guys fund the RMTBC First Response Unit in the forest, an emergency service that has literally saved lives — think of it as your insurance policy.
If shuttling isn’t your jam, check out the Forest Loop Trail that has recently opened. This is a 30km trail that circumnavigates Whakarewarewa Forest. If starting at Waipa, you’ll wind through a cathedral of redwoods before gradually climbing the face of Te Tokorangi Pā where you’ll be treated to some of the best views over Rotorua. Round the back of the forest you’ll pass the privately owned Lake Rotokākahi— this lake is tapu to local iwi and has a fascinating history. Once finished, I hope you’ve packed your togs, as you’ll want to visit Keith at Secret Spot Hot Tubs. Set in lush native bush, you’ll be given your own cedar hot tub complete with a button to push should you wish to order a beverage or two. I highly recommend leaving with one of their cinnamon scrolls made by local bakery Guidoughs.
If a hearty meal is needed, the Good Eastern Taphouse is the place to go. I am particularly fond of their halloumi burger and you can’t go wrong with a Good George cider. And if a massage is needed, then the world-class Polynesian Spa is your go-to. I don’t want to give anything away, but the Aix Therapy Massage doesn’t suck. McLeods Booksellers isa must-do before leaving town; this local gem is what booklovers’ dreams are made of. If Jemma is behind the counter, she’ll give you the best recommendations on whatever genre you’re into. Finally, be sure to pop into Okere Falls Store .There is often live music playing in the beer garden, and the Okere Falls walk is five minutes up the road and a good way to walk off the vege nachos that I insist you try.