30km, Grade 3/intermediate, 4–5 hours
The start of the Waihaha section is 40 minutes’ drive from Kinloch at the Waihaha River car park off SH32. It ends at remote Waihora Bay, requiring a water taxi to rejoin the Great Lake Trail at Kawakawa Bay or return to Kinloch.
If you have your own transport, the best way to tackle this section is to park in Kinloch and organise for a shuttle to drop you off at the track start; we will then drop you off back at Kinloch. Riders without transport should ask a local bike tour operator to sort their shuttle and the boat. Whatever you do, don’t let the logistics deter you – this is considered by many riders to be the best day out on the trails.
Seriously fit and eager riders can make the logistics easier by self-driving and riding the trail as a 60km return trip. Another option is to cut the ride short after 13km by cycling up a farm track (Waihaha Road) back to Western Bays Road.
The first half of this exhilarating ride follows the Waihaha River high above a pretty gorge cloaked in native bush. Rocky outcrops command grand views over the volcanic landscape, with the spectacular Tieke Falls a major highlight.
The second half of the ride is equally scenic as it meanders around the lake edge. Highlights include rocky ravines, cliff-top lookouts across the lake to the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park, the mysterious Echo Rock, and the trail’s descent alongside Kotukutuku Stream with its gushes and waterfalls.
The trail ends at Kotukutuku Landing in tranquil Waihora Bay where you can go for a refreshing dip while you wait for your boat.
Note that a popular option from here is to get dropped off by the boat at Kawakawa Bay, for the lovely 10km ride through to Kinloch.