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hawkeye's picture

By hawkeye - Posted on 09 May 2014

Howdy all

I'm looking to do a trip to Rotorua later this year with the youngsta when he finishes his HSC, probably week 1 of December. We're more into XC than the DH end of the spectrum, although if there's any descending to be done I'm sure he wouldn't say no to being shuttled to the top.

Are there any mtb tours / operators that people can recommend? Have you found it better to BYO bike or hire there?

Thanks for your help Smiling

[Mod. moved to chat]

Jonathan's picture

As for tours i'm not sure but i hired a bike from vegas when i was there. Technically i cant fault the bike i hired (marin trail 5") but i would never hire again. it really did ruin the whole experience for me, i just wasn't in sync with the bike and kept wishing i was on my bike..

Hope that helps.

Russh's picture

plaining on doing the same this year (Oct-Nov).

Going with a few guys that have been several times previously and spoken to a few others that are regulars. The town is pretty much set up for MTBing. There are several shuttle operators that take you to the top throughout the day and you just make your way back down via the different trails that as you see fit. You buy coupons for the shuttle network and they base the time table around meals break times so its very user friendly.

I have been looking at hotels and there are plenty over in the centre of town and the town isnt big so easy to get around.

Rob's picture

You certainly have to take your own bike. Nothing like something you know. If you stay in town then you probably don't need to hire a car either. The airport transfers (book ahead) are all set up to handle bike boxes.

For a guide? Hmmmm... well, first time we went were spoilt by having 'that Kiwi bloke' Eye-wink - who hangs out here sometimes show us around. I reckon if you have a map (and they are easy to pick up everywhere in town) you should be right. The trails are all very well signposted.

Fill your GPS up with activities from Garmin Connect or Strava (there will literally be 1000s to choose from) and just follow them for a few days. By then you'll have the lay of the land and might just string things together how you like.

There's a load of threads here about the 'must see' trails if you search for 'Rotorua'.

I wouldn't bother with a shuttle, especially if you are going for a week or more because hills are your friends Eye-wink

Slash's picture

The guys at Planet Bike can customise a tour guide for you. I rented a Yeti 575 from Outdoorsman, you can pretty much rent anything over there, from XC to DH bikes, but i still wished i had taken my own bike. Planet Bike also rents bikes too.

sikllama's picture

Not been riding in NZ (though if you want advice for skiing activities in winter I'm your man) so have nothing to contribute to the discussion except to say what a great dad @hawkeye for planning on taking the boy on a trip post HSC! Does this take the place of a schoolies week Eye-wink

Matt P's picture

Another vote for them.

Ed is a top bloke. I think he does the best coffee in town.

Narralakes's picture

Will does trips to NZ, pretty sure he goes to Rotorua. I did a trip with him to Sparrow Hill and Stromlo and it was a great weekend. He's professional and runs a great tour. His link is

donkerr's picture

I think that a guide in the park is probably a waste of money - the fall line is 90% of the time back to the car park so you can't really get lost - just waylaid. I would highly recommend trying the Moerangi Track if you have more than a couple of days. It's bout 90mins from Rotorua. Jailhouse Shuttles will transfer you from and to Rotorua and it's an epic backcountry trail ( about 35km ) that I cannot stress just how fantastic it is. Effort wise I would compare it to about 50-60km on the Great North Road.

hawkeye's picture

Thanks for all the info. Thanks especially to Kit who has given me the names of some good, bike friendly places to stay.

Hills are definitely my friend and 50-60km on the GNR was a lot of fun when I did it with Geoff63 late last year. I don't think my young bloke shares that view, though. We'll see what I can con him into without stretching the friendship too far. Eye-wink

Lach's picture

... Weekends, school hols, wed evenings iirc? Also the entrance to the forest via Redwoods (closest to the "bike friendly" hotels) was closed due to logging when I was last there. Having said that, there's a bike path / mtb track up to the other entrance. There's quite a bit you can do without getting too much elevation if motivating the young bloke is a problem when there's no shuttle. Hit up a climb early and then enjoy the rest of the day....

Burgs's picture

I did a Rotorua Trip with Will Levy in March which was the best 5 days riding in my life! Sensational XC trail as well as all mountain style and downhill if you want. Guide or no Guide - depends on time available and effort you want to put in.
There was hardly a minute of downtime in the five days on tour and Will customises the day to suit what riders want - he'll ride till midnight if you want or if stuffed by lunchtime it will be an easy afternoon. With a guide you are guaranteed to ride the best trails in the area.
Transporting bikes was easy too - Air NZ straight into Rotorua from Syd twice a week and they are use to handling and looking after bikes (no damage with the 16 on our group).
I can't recommend Rotorua enough......I'll definitely be back there at some stage.

Whisperer's picture

Hey Hawkeye and Nobmob friends
I am planning a trip to Rororua in the week 20th to 27th of October. (That's Monday to Monday).
Was speaking to Air NZ today, and they have direct flights from Sydney every Monday and Thursday, prices are looking pretty good, around $300 each way. The direct flight save a world of hassle changing at Auckland.
I'll certainly be interested in the accommodation there and it revolves around who else I can tempt to come. Up for suggestions, as it'd be great to have some company!
Get in touch if interested around the same time. I have some flexibility with the dates.

Rob's picture

IIRC we stayed at the Birchwood Spa last time. Look, they even have a page for MTB riders:

Super easy access to town and trail.

Discodan's picture

Second the Brichrwood, get one of the townhouses with an attached garage with internal access and it's hog heaven

Russh's picture

is there anyone that has been there before in Oct/Nov?

I am looking at maybe doing this as well but have been told some of the mountains will still have some snow in parts.

Am I better to wait till Feb/March next year?

amarkie's picture

I'm a bit late .. but ..

Going on a tour is so much fun but you really don't need to be on a tour to enjoy Rotorua. Everything is really easy to find and everywhere I went everyone was very helpful and MTB friendly.

Here are my blog posts on rotorua
Part 1
Part 2

The Alpin Motel is well within riding distance of the Redwoods, however I would choose to hire a car and save the energy for riding. The Alpin is a fairly basic motel, but theres heaps of room, comfortable and they are VERY mountain bike friendly. I'm heading back in November and will be staying there again.

The Redwoods have an ridiculously large selection of trails you can easily pedal to some brilliant XC trails or get on the shuttle to some of the most amazingly flowy gravity trails imaginable.

Skyline has just opened up too, and thats 364 days a year of gondola lifted gravity runs. I haven't seen any gopro footage but they have a range of levels ..

Videos to watch

Mine of course ..

All of the Flow MTB Top 10 Trails

Chris and Mick's AMB trip "Mad if you don't" (Of the riding in the Redwoods there is heaps of footage of Corners, Split ends and Old Chevy on this video).

amarkie's picture

in 2011, they had their first snow in 50 years .. so no problems with snow.

I went in January and the weather was PERFECT riding. 20°C and cooler in the forest.

In Oct November (when Im planning on riding next) it will be a fair bit cooler. Pack some layers.

Russh's picture

Accom booked for November this year. Cant wait

Skyline looks awesome and should make a good break day for when the shuttles arent running at redwoods

Did I mention I cant wait?????

amarkie's picture

Im just waiting/hoping for the bonus to come through before I start booking everything. Nov 14-23 is my schedule ATM.

BTW if yr planning on hiring a car don't be afraid of flying to Auckland. Flights are a hell of a lot less than Rotorua (on current rates its $100-$200 less each way!). The drive from Auckland to Rotorua is easy and really beautiful. Its a great opportunity to unwind.

Ace Rental cars do good deals on older model cars.

Russh's picture

may run into you over there. I am there from the 11th to 18th. Flying straight into Rotorua as I travel a bit for work and now really despise airport transfers and extra travel time. Happy to pay the extra to fly direct and get into the riding sooner and easier

amarkie's picture

I can appreciate that. If you see a big guy on a Giant with an orange backpack yell out .. AARON!

Something I found out the other day that is going to RADICALLY change my Rotorua Trip.

If you are a Qantas Club Member you get 40kg of check in baggage plus 7kg of carry on. After checking with the travel agent I'm told there is nothing to stop me taking 2 bike boxes as long as the total weight is under 40kg and neither bike box is over 32kg.

I'm very much looking forward to not only taking the Reign down Te Tihi-O-Tawa (my favourite trail) but also riding the Anthem around Old Chevy (Taree's Kiwarrak on steroids).

Russh's picture

will do and nice find. Go nuts

Lach's picture

Anyone got any feedback yet on the new gondola track area? Heading over that way next month and wondering whether the $55 per day is worth it for XC type riding?

hawkeye's picture

Well the young fella has finally finished his exams. I've booked the flights and the accommodation is next.

What's best for packing the bikes? Cardboard bike boxes from the LBS, or proper bike bags?

amarkie's picture

From my investigations a bike bag weighs about 6kg. That's a HUGE chunk of yr allotted check in.

Your mission is to pack under weight. ... no seriously!

Grab a bike box and try to keep it under weight !!! then think about if you want to spend the money on a heavy bag or industrial option.

Alternatively buy additional baggage allowance or upgrade to Qantas club and get enough allowance for 2 bikes .... 11 days and counting!

amarkie's picture

How was everyone's trip to Rotorua? Mine was outstanding. 9 days - 7 on the trail .. averaging around 27km per day (plus shuttles) finishing with a huge 5.5hour 40km day that took me from one side to the other and front to back.

It was such an amazing time.

A couple of video's for you

Return to the Redwoods

Whak-en Outrageous - My Last Day in the Redwoods

hawkeye's picture

Pondy DH is fast - my eyes were jolting around so much my vision was blurred and I cracked my neck going over one of the bumps - ow! Eye-wink

I also noticed that you went down on that diagonal root in that right hand hairpin during the credits in your first vid - Josh did *exactly* the same thing in *exactly* the same spot - lol! Only saw the B-line around the outside afterwards.

Those roots at the top of Tickler after the first hairpin messed with my head - walked the big fat diagonal one both times, but probably should have lofted over them like you did.

amarkie's picture

It was my third and final time down Chestnut that I managed to avoid that root divot. That particular shot was my first time down and it was raining. Soooo slippery.

Tickler - I'm pretty sure I walked the first two roots on my first run. It was ok when I knew what to expect but that first run had me spooked.

Did you go up Katore Rd and ride Tokorangi or Gunna Gotta?

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