Western Okataina Trail: Rotorua, Bay of Plenty. Whakarewarewa Forest

Updated: Feb 15, 2019

Discipline: Walk/Run/MTB

Said to be Rotorua’s longest MTB trail, ‘generally wide and well formed’ (DoC). Dual purpose track, can be ridden either direction. Point to point ride. Ride description below from Millar Road to Outdoor Education Centre, Lake Okataina Road.

Start: Millar Road, Lake Okataina

Finish: Outdoor Education Centre, Lake Okataina Road

Distance: 15.1km (DoC states 19.1km, this is incorrect)

Terrain: Old forestry road through native bush

Ascent: 621m

Descent: 698m

Advertised MTB Grade: 3 (see link for NZ grading)

Ridability: Starts off with a wide and well-formed trail and a gradual ascent, luring you into a false sense of security. Track becomes very rutted from rain water run-off, forming narrow, deep hollows which become tricky to navigate and perfect for hitting your pedals on. A couple of steep drop-offs at the top, which would be more of a grade 4 rating.

Descent is again very rutted out, but does allow the competent rider a fast descent.

Track condition, approximately half way.

Training Purpose/Use: Long, steady hill climbs. Technical ascending skills.


Would We Ride Again: Yes, for the training purposes stated above. Probably wouldn’t ride it again from the Outdoor Education Centre to Millar Road (see comments below).

Additional Thoughts/Recommendations:

- Recommend starting from Millar Road. We did an out and back starting from the Outdoor Education Centre, the first 6km were tedious with lots of ‘hike a bike’ uphill. Not being the most technical of riders, we struggled to navigate the rutted-out track and, being the height of summer, the ground was dry and skiddy/unstable.

- There are some sections that we would class as grade 4. To enjoy the trail, you would want to be confident with bike handling skills up and down hill.

- Recommend doing in dry conditions. Maybe even more rutted out in the wet, descents will be super slippy.

- Some cutty grass and overgrown areas at the top (as of Feb 2019).

- No water on route.

- Limited phone signal.

Training Ideas:

- We added in a lap of Lake Tikitapu/Blue Lake to make up some kms, plenty of options for more kms once at Lake Tikitapu and The Redwoods.

- Can add in more elevation and distance with a quick detour to Whakapounakau Trig, with epic views over Lake Rotorua and Rotoiti.

- Would be a good trail run… lots of options for extra kms or just an out and back.

GPS/Ride Details Here:

- We weren’t going a fast pace, took our time stopped here and there to take in the scenery.

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