A day-long cycle loop incorporating Redwood trees, geothermal activity, Māori culture and stunning views is close to reality for Rotorua.
The Rotorua Trails Trust has taken the idea, which has been thrown around by the community for years, and created a day-long ride that will be achievable even for less experienced cyclists.
The loop has been created around iconic features that Rotorua mountain biking is renowned for – fun trails, Māori culture, Redwood trees, geothermal activity, and stunning views.
One of the original concepts for the Te Ara Ahi alignment, the idea was never able to get off the ground.
However, as part of the wider Whakarewarewa Forest forest development project, Rotorua Lakes Council have been working closely with Rotorua Trails Trust, CNI Iwi Holdings Ltd, and mana whenua, to make the concept a reality.
The ride will run clockwise around the forest, across the Tokorangi Face, which overlooks the city, through the new Tarawera Rd Forest Hub, past Lake Tikitapu, through to the existing Te Ara Ahi path on State Highway 5 to connect to the Waipa mountain bike car park.
The plan is for this loop to replace Te Ara Ahi as the New Zealand Cycle Trail "Great Ride" in Rotorua.
Te Ara Ahi will remain as a "Heartland Ride".
Rotorua Lakes Council said many of their partners were excited about having a loop trail that would showcase Rotorua biking to people who may not have had the opportunity to experience these iconic features on current, more advanced trails
The council said they were also working with mana whenua to create a cultural overlay for the forest which would tell the story of the land and its people.
The story would feature throughout the new forest loop.
Tenders are currently out to build the new trail sections for the loop with five local trail building companies putting their hand up for the opportunity so far.
The council aimed to have contracts awarded in October, with work to commence by November. Sections of trails would be ready to ride in early 2020, with the loop being officially opened in late 2020.