The great lake trail
Traverse around the largest lake of New Zealand, which offers you all of the extraordinary features along the way like the lush forest and wetlands, the mighty waterfall, beautiful beaches, a stunning volcanic gorge and the amazing outlooks from the headlands.
The trail is divided into three sections called the Waihaha, the Kawakawa – Kinloch (K2K), and the Kinloch – Whakapo (W2K), which are easy to access by the shuttle and the water taxi. Each section is usually expected to finish in one day, and the trail could be done from west to east in two or three days depending on your physical fitness. Kinloch is the transport hub that cycling enthusiasts may choose to be the departure for both the K2K or W2K rides.
The trail includes many ups and downs, with some short switchback climbs. There is a section where you can meet the volcanic rock cliffs.
Three sections are easily accessible by shuttle and water taxi. It is best recommended to travel from West to East. The trail is also advised to be taken by the intermediate enthusiasts.
Food and drink
It is better for you to prepare the food and bring your own bottle during the ride. There are some restaurants aside but you may have to go off the trail.
The Waihaha ride may start at the Waihaha River car park off SH32 and end at the remote Waihora Bay. Taking the water taxi towards Kinloch or Kawakawa Bay is the recharged moment after the 30-kilometer ride, and connect it with the other rides. The ride will take you around four or five hours. We recommend to park your transportation in Kinloch and book the shuttle to the drop-off to the starting point and taking the water taxi to rejoin Kinloch. Do not let the transportation things pull you down because the trail is considered to be the one best of the whole trail. Imagine yourself following the Waihaha River above a gorge cloaked in a native bush. The magnificent Tieke Falls is one of the highlights after traversing through the rocky outcrops and over the volcanic landscape. You can catch up the rocky ravines, cliff-top while meandering around the lake edge and out looking the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park, together with the Echo Rock and the Kotukutuku stream.
The Kawakawa to Kinloch trail usually takes up the 2.5 to 3.5 hours which starts at the Orakau car park near the Whangamata Road. It is advised to parking at Kinloch and gets dropped off. The inexperienced cycling lovers can enjoy the 10km section towards the Kawakawa bay with their family or groups. Winding from the car park downhill following the single-track and passing the wetlands, you can discover the forest and the ravines over the boardwalk. It is a good chance to take a dip in the clear water of the lake and enjoy the snack at the halfway point. The shelter and campsite are also available. The 3km climb before getting back to Kinloch with a spectacular view across the western bay.
The Whakaipo to Kinloch could be started from both directions from Whakaipo or Kinloch. You could take the taxi or the shuttle to go back from Whakaipo. The Headland Loop is the best feature in this ride where the pretty and tranquility Whakaipo exists. The stunning panorama of the Tongariro National park and the Kaimanawa Ranges on the road from Kinloch marina towards the Headland Loop is worth every effort. Enjoy swimming and picnicking on the intersection between the ending of Headland loop and the main trail. It is a great spot to recharge your energy for a return or for transportation awaiting.
Some of the information is sourced from: https://www.nzcycletrail.com/find-your-ride/22-great-rides/great-lake-trail/
49.506 km / 30.761 mi
1,318 m / 4,324 ft
1,416 m / 4,646 ft
645 m / 2,115 ft