Why Rotorua should be on your ‘must-ride’ list

Sven Martin seeks out the trail treasures in and around Rotorua on New Zealand’s North Island.
By Sven Martin

Skyline Bike Park in Rotorua, New Zealand is the country's first year-round gondola assisted bike park. With Crankworx Rotorua 2017 underway all eyes are on the main slopestyle stage – however, the park has more to offer than just big jumps and pro lines.

Join Wyn Masters below for a taste of Skyline trails as he follows Sam Blenkinsop and Martin Maes down the Sprint Warrior trail at Skyline Rotorua.

But it's not just Skyline Bike Park that makes Rotorua a world-class riding destination. Take a tour of the renowned Redwood Trails in the Whakarewarewa Forest with photographer Sven Martin below and see why Rotorua should become top of your 'must ride' list...

Welcome to the North Island

While there are many good trails, parks, tracks and routes to ride on the North Island, Rotorua is definitely the centre of it all and the highlight.

Apart from being the oldest trail network in the country, Rotorua also has the most trails. Over 130km of purpose-built trails all in a relatively small area within riding distance of the city centre.

Local knowledge

Stop in at one of the shops or cafés by the trails and ask the locals for some advice. There is no fee to ride (unless you shuttle) so buying a map is a good way to give back as all the proceeds go to trail maintenance – and you'll get lost without one.

Image of Rotorua's bike shop for Sven Martin's Rotorua Riding Trip to New Zealand
Rotorua’s bike culture shop © Sven Martin

Smile-inducing flow

The trails cater to every level of rider from elite downhill racer to beginner – what they all have in common though is smile-inducing flow.

Building has been going on since the '80s and the trails pass through a variety of different types of trees; pine, Californian Redwoods, Australian Eucalyptus and native New Zealand ferns are the most common.

Get a taste for Whakarewarewa Forest with Wyn Masters' headcam footage below.

Tuesday is for tearing down trails! Wyn Masters - Wyntv riding at Whakarewarewa forest in Rotorua, NZ. #GoPro

Posted by Red Bull Bike on Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Take your time

Each trail has a distinctive style, be it in the corners, or the speed-pumping bumps, jumps and drops. There's a lot to sample, so take your time. There are shuttles on weekends and some mid-week days (all week during holidays), which are handy to get the most out of your visit.

Sven Martin's Rotorua Riding Trip to New Zealand
The magic of Rotorua © Sven Martin

Working together to make great trails

Even though New Zealand (and Rotorua) is a trail-rich country, the bike club and bike culture scene here is thriving and new trails are seemingly popping up on a monthly basis, there's always the continued maintenance, tweaking and updating of existing trails and networks. Clubs have close working partnerships with land and forest owners, city councils, local and national government.

NZO base for Sven Martin's Rotorua Riding Trip to New Zealand
The base camp of MTB clothing firm NZO in Rotorua © Sven Martin

Must-do trails

The trails serve to bring in the tourists while also keeping the citizens healthy and happy. A win-win situation for everyone. The rest of the world should really take note of how it works here, with a mixture of volunteer, city, government and privately funded trail-building initiatives.

Here's a list of must-do trails if your visit is short. Hatupatu, Te Tihi o Tawa, Billy T, Corners, Huckleberry Hound, Little Red Riding Huck, Split Enz, Hot X Buns, National DH, Challenge, B Rude Not 2 and much more.

...and don't forget after those long days of riding to ease your aching muscles in one of Rotorua's many hot pools!

A moment of relaxation during Sven Martin's Rotorua Riding Trip to New Zealand
Post-ride relaxation in a geothermal hot pool © Sven Martin
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