Rotorua is perhaps the most famous mountain bike destination in New Zealand, and for good reason. The town has hosted many large events including the World Mountain Bike Championships, Crankworx and the Enduro World Series. Rotorua is the complete package when it comes to a mountain bike destination: incredible trails and lots to do when you’re not on your bike.
When you’re on your bike, there’s the Skyline Bike Park, Whakarewarewa Forest (also known as the Whaka Trails or simply “the Forest”) and Rainbow Mountain to the south of town. If you love mountain biking you will absolutely love Rotorua. The best time of the year to ride is November to April, but you can easily ride year round as it never gets too cold to ride and the tracks generally recover very quickly after rain (and it does rain in New Zealand).
Your first impression of the town may be that it’s a rather busy tourist town, and that it’s perhaps an unlikely home for world class mountain bike trails. Rotorua is quite large and there is a distinct rotten egg smell everywhere you go due to the strong geothermal activity in the area. It takes a bit of getting used to, but the geothermal activity is also part of what makes the area so awesome. Don’t be deterred by the somewhat atypical feel in Rotorua, because it really is a mountain bike town if you settle in and stay long enough to get the true vibe.
It is also worth noting that you can have multi sport days from a Rotorua base as it’s only 1.5 hours away from super fun surf breaks. Whitewater rafting and lake fishing can also be enjoyed nearby.
Land access to Whakarewarewa Forest is free and courtesy of the Maori tribal land owners, Ngati Whakaue and Tuhourangi. Recreation is managed by the Rotorua Lakes Council. There is a legal right of public access for recreational activity in Whakarewarewa Forest, but land owners and forestry management go far beyond their obligations in allowing the mountain bike community to build a trail network that is one of the best in the world.
RideSpots would like to acknowledge our awesome Rotorua ambassadors: Rob from Bike Culture Rotorua, who helped us create most of the must do rides as well as educated us about the land use agreements that are so unique and make all of this possible; Marcello from Mountain Bike Rotorua who helped us recommend the best places to eat and stay in town as well as much of the other information you are reading on these pages; and Brad from Mountain Bike Rotorua who guided us when we were in town and helped us to keep our stoke high! Thank you also to Mark Coker for the awesome images. We could not have made this page without our ambassadors support and recommendations. When in Rotorua make sure you say hi to these people as they will give you incredible advice if you seek more than is provided here.
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