Mountain Biking

How to ride the Great Lake Taupo bike trail

Great Lake Taupo Cycle Trail

The Great Lake Taupo Bike Trail has had significant investment in recent years.  There are a bunch of different ways to ride the Great Lake Taupo Bike Trail.  Official websites describe flexibility to cycle it in every direction or stage (there are 3 sections), many businesses offer an endless number of shuttle options.  But all of those options make my head hurt!

Here are my well researched tips on how to ride the Great Lake Taupo bike trail. 

I’ve broken it down to 3 different flavours:

  1. Ride the Eastern sections – Intermediate to advanced riders, half a day
  2. Ride a single section –  Beginner to intermediate riders, half a day
  3. Smash out the full trail in a day – Advanced or fit riders, full day

1. Recommended ride for intermediate – advanced riders – 34km

Start – Orakau carpark (30km from Taupo).  Start riding at around 9.30

Orakau to Kawakawa Bay:  10km -1h. 

Kawakawa Bay to Kinloch  K2K:  9km – 1.5h

Kinloch for lunch.

Kinloch to Whapaipo – W2K:  13 km – 2h

Finish – Whakaipo Bay (13km from Taupo).  At your car/shuttle by 3pm

Total distance:  34 km



Option 1:  Park your own car at Whakaipo.  Catch a shuttle to Orakau carpark

Option 2:  Shuttle from Taupo – Orakau.  Shuttle Whakaipo to Taupo.

Do you have a bike?  Just arrange a shuttle from FourB

Do you need to hire a bike?  FourB also provide a range of regular and electric mountain bikes


Recommended ride for beginner to intermediate riders – 20 km:

Start – Orakau carpark

Finish – Kinloch – 20km

Distance – 20km


This trail is mostly downhill.


Full trail

Start – Waihaha (45mins drive from Taupo)

Ride the 25km from Waihaha, take the boat across to Kawakawa or Kinloch

Kawakawa Bay to Kinloch  K2K:  9km – 1.5h

Kinloch to Whapaipo – W2K:  13 km – 2h

Finish – Waikapo

Distance:  54 – 63km  – 6-8 h riding



You’ll almost certainly need a shuttle to get you to Waihaha.  You could either meet in Taupo or at the finish at Waikapo (probably easiest so you can be more flexible with time).

You’ll need to arrange a boat trip with your bikes, any Operator can do this.  Around $75-100 depending on # people.

Variation:  You can shorten this trip a bit by finishing in Kinloch instead of Waihaha.  But honestly, you’re so close to finishing the whole trail in one, just do it!


Other options:

Western side only – start and finish at your car at Waihaha

This is a cost effective day trip of the western side, it’s easiest to start and finish yourself at Waihaha, which unfortunately means riding back on yourself.    Rent your bike in Taupo and throw it in the back of your car (if you’ve got room!).

Western side only – start at Waihaha and finish at Kinloch

This is an expensive option just to get a boat ride with a mountain bike.  You’ll need a shuttle from Kinloch to Waihaha ($50+ per person) and $75-100pp for the boat ride.

Cycle back to Taupo instead of catching a shuttle?

It’s pretty boring and chances are you’re knackered after the long ride.


Where to hire bikes and get shuttles?

Hire a bike in Taupo.

FourB will bring the bike to you with their shuttle.  They hire out electric mountain bikes, which would be a great option for less fit or experienced riders to keep up with (or even overtake) the group.

Taupo Mountain Bike Hire Huka Falls are the only Operator hiring out Full Suspension bikes, which would be a dream to ride on this sort of track.

Find a bike to hire and book a shuttle

More information:

The Taupo website has more information about the trails.

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