It may only be a kilometre long. However, Rosebank trail in the Whakarewarewa Forest has history at every corner.

It was part of the initial wave of trails pioneered by Fred Christensen more than 20 years ago.

That started with Circuit on the top of the Tokorangi ridgeline overlooking Rotorua.

It was ground zero, the true original, and became Genesis, such a definitive trail it required three to replace it after the area was logged – Arepa, Mini DH and Te Huinga.


After Circuit, Fred continued trail blazing in what was known as Compartment 10. The idea was to construct a loop under one banner name. This was Challenge Trail, named for Fletcher Challenge, the forest owners at the time.

From C10 the early crews crossed Pohaturoa Rd to The Bottom Track, once known as Diamondback, now Dipper.

Next up was the Fairy Forest, the last part of Tahi. Then, back across the road into Twin Peaks, now Rosebank.

This became world-famous when videos of the stream crossing at the end of the trail went viral after the 2010 Singlespeed World Championships and, again, after the 2015 Anzac Singlespeed Champs, with riders crashing and splashing surrounded by big, raucous crowds of spectators.

Rosebank is a grade 4, among magnificent Redwoods and Douglas Fir, with technical climbs and descents that test both lungs and skills. I can't remember the first time I rode it – early 2000s, maybe. It was a trail that really stretched my abilities, which made it a firm favourite.

Last Sunday, it was the focus of the monthly trails working bee.

For me, walking a trail provides a whole different perspective on the terrain – descents seem steeper, while climbs don't seem as intimidating.

The stream crossing on Rosebank trail is a popular spot for race day spectators. PHOTO/Mead Norton, Rotorua Singlespeed Society
The stream crossing on Rosebank trail is a popular spot for race day spectators. PHOTO/Mead Norton, Rotorua Singlespeed Society

What is remarkable about Rosebank is how little has changed over the last two decades.

I haven't ridden it enough, recently, but it felt very familiar. Going on working bees is also something I've not done for a while.


I'd forgotten how satisfying trail work is. Thanks to Mark West, Erik Westra and Toby Stovold for organising the bees and their expertise.

We started riding in the Whakarewarewa Forest 25 years ago when a couple of laps of The Dipper, pursued by a border collie and blue heeler, was a big day out.

When we moved to Rotorua in the early 2000s, we didn't know many people.

Joining the Mountain Bike Club and going on working bees was a great way to meet some of the wonderful locals who shared our love of the trails - and to give something back.

There were some very talented and experienced trail designers and builders on those bees.

It was like an apprenticeship and slowly, slowly their knowledge was absorbed - how to make the landscape work for you, how to make a trail flow from corner to corner.

So when it came to trail builds like Hot X Bun and Old Chevy, it was possible to have some input on the big walks to recce and mark the trails out.

Satisfying and inspiring? You bet.

Check out for information on individual trails and their history and 'Events' on Ride Rotorua on Facebook for dates of the monthly working bees. Have a dig and learn some skills.

Video: How not to cross the stream on Rosebank, Singlespeed World Champs 2010 courtesy Gregg Brown/Pig and Whistle