ESTIMATED TIME: Cycling 1 hour | Walking 3 hours
Note: we have described the Great Lake Trail here as if it is being ridden in a west – east direction. It can, however, be ridden in the opposite direction
This section begins from the Whangamata Road car park, the trail follows the Orakau Stream and ) wetland, through regenerating native bush down to Kawakawa Bay on the edge of Lake Taupō. Known in the region as Chinaman’s after Chinaman’s Creek, this was geographically incorrect but this name has stuck with local riders, which can cause confusion as to where you are going to ride. A great place to see a restoration project in place, as Bike Taupo, Greening Taupo and DOC work on the Wetland and Native Bush in this area.
Trail: The trail starts by weaving in and out of pine trees and through gullies. There are a couple of boardwalks with excellent views of the Orakau wetland/stream valley with the pastureland visible on the nearby rural hillsides. With the lake and mountains out of view now the trail rolls in and out of bush and Harakeke (flax) wetland areas. Traversing the sides of this small valley the trail climbs to a wide bridge (without handrails) to cross over the stream. You will continue to descend through the Orakau Stream valley and through native bush till you reach a couple of bench seats from where there are stunning views of the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park just south of Lake Taupo. Once you’ve had a rest and taken in the view, the trail continues on under lush ponga tree fronds before crossing two bridges.
Before long you will be aware that you are actually riding on the beach, which is now covered in bush, as you feel stones under your tyre treads! The trail continues along parallel to the beach for a while before emerging onto the beach at the stunning Kawakawa Bay.
An easy trail suitable for less experienced or less fit riders. This ride can also be arranged for riders whilst the rest of their group take on the Waihaha and Waihora Sections. The whole group can then enjoy a boat trip into Kinloch or ride the K2K together.
ACCESS POINTS: Whangamata Road, boat access at Kawakawa Bay or take on the climb of the K2K back to Kinloch.