The Word Is Out: Electric Bikes Are Hot
New Zealand’s Best E-Bike Trail Is In Rotorua
Incidentally, the new Whakarewarewa Forest Loop mountain biking trail is hot too, and it just so happens to have turned out to be the country’s premiere trail for electric mountain bike riders.
Why, you ask? Well, let us tell you the ways.
Firstly, the trail is great in its own right, presenting to you 33kms of ups and downs, runs, flats, berms and hairpins through the beautiful Whakarewarewa Forest. Up for New Zealand Great Ride status, this trail definitely offers more variety than any other Great Rides. E-bikes make it easier to keep up with your super- fit friends on those uphill bits, leaving you with enough energy at the end of the ride to enjoy a cold drink at the local pub afterwards.
Secondly, you’ve got epic look-out points just begging for Insta-fame – and giving you great excuses to stop for a breather. Yes, it’s likely you’ll need to stop for a break or two, even if pedalling an e-bike. After all, the bike doesn’t do EVERYTHING for you.
Finally, the Loop was built with your average Jill and Joe Riders in mind. It’s mostly a Grade 2, with a bit of Grade 3. We wouldn’t suggest this as your first trail (there are heaps of other great trails in the forest for you to start on), but if you’re a confident rider, go forth and shred, my friend. On an e-bike, you’re likely to finish the Loop in around three hours or less, depending on how often and for how long you stop.
If you find you’re running low on water or energy bars, you’ll be happy to know that along the trail there are three spots to purchase food and drinks, and four taps to refill water bottles, as well as three accessible toilet blocks (a couple of them have showers).
Where to get your hands on an e-bike
If you’re not an e-bike owner but want to see what the fuss is all about, it’s pretty easy to get your hands on one and give it a whirl.
Maybe don’t ask your neighbour or friend to borrow theirs as the bikes are somewhat pricey and they may be reluctant to loan them out. Don’t be offended; instead, just rent one! Pro tip: Book in advance as they’re becoming more and more popular.
One of Rotorua’s oldest bike rental businesses, Planet Bike, is 23 years young this year and has been renting out e-bikes since 2016. The family- run business offers freedom bike hire and trail info and maps, as well as mountain bike tours catered to solo riders, groups, families, whatever you need.
You’ll find Planet Bike on Waipa State Mill Road, tucked right along the edge of the forest, just a bit past the mountain bike hub and with immediate access to easy and intermediate trails. Give yourself time to get fit to just the right bike and enjoy a caffeine boost from the coffee cart onsite.
Mountain Bike Rotorua is also well known for their bike hiring, tours and services. Book an e-bike for two hours, half or full day, on your own or guided.
MBR has two locations: at the mountain bike hub on Waipa State Mill Road just off State Hwy 5, and at Te Pūtake o Tawa.
Both Planet Bike and MBR have highly qualified bike mechanics onsite too, so if you have a bike that needs a bit of TLC, they’re your people.
Electric Bike Rotorua has two locations offering bikes for sale and hire. They’ll help you with route ideas for an awesome ride, and their four- legged staff member Alfie is there for moral support as well.
Visit them at their Fenton Street location, or at Whakarewarewa Village which offers exclusive entry to the forest trails from their site.
How to get started
We recommend starting at Te Pūtake o Tawa carpark or Waipa carpark as both hubs offer the food, drink, bike rental and other facilities mentioned above. Plus, there’s plenty of parking at these two locations.
Other trails intersect or share parts of this trail, so keep an eye out for other traffic, including trail dogs.
Check before you ride
Whakarewarewa Forest is a working forest, with heavy equipment in use. This can lead to the closure of trails, usually temporarily, so it’s important to heed all signs that indicate alternate routes must be used. Trailforks at https://www. trailforks.com/ is an excellent up-to- date source of information regarding closures, detours, or any other issues that riders should look out for. Give Whakarewarewa Forest Loop a follow on Facebook, too, for helpful information.
You should have mobile phone coverage throughout most of the trail, should you need it.
Spread only friendly vibes
Keep in mind that bikes of all types – and riders of all skill and confidence levels – will be on the trails, as well as walkers, runners and even horses! So, it’s important to share with care.
We love sharing our forest with neighbours from near and far. Greet your fellow forest users – we love hearty exchanges of “Kia ora!” along the way. When approaching others from behind, call out to let them know your desire to pass them. For everyone’s safety, give horses a wide berth and pass slowly.
Rotorua is a great place to ride and that’s hugely due to our manaakitanga. Pay it forward!