Embark on a journey shaped by fire and culture on the earth's active crust which has been ripped apart and now gives glimpses into its belly at seven steaming geothermal fields, craters and lakes.
The trail is suitable for beginners near the city, and more experienced riders further south where it becomes forested singletrack. The trail can be ridden all year, in both directions, and consists of a couple of distinct sections that can be biked as short half day excursions, or combined into a 1-2 day trip.
Te Ara Ahi (also known as Thermal By Bike) is an 'A to B' trail that begins near the steaming shores of Lake Rotorua. The trail surface and width is varied, with one section suitable for beginners with others better suited to intermediate riders.
The trail can provide a trip for a few hours or if ridden in its entirety, a 1-2 day journey. The first section is more popular than the second, with the entire trail rarely ridden in one go. The trail is remarkable in the way that it passes seven geothermal fields; some can be freely ridden by and observed, while others have a charge for entry.
The trail starts on an easy path that hugs the steaming shores of Lake Rotorua. The trail skirts the fringes of the giant redwood forest of Whakarewarewa and leaves town through Hemo Gorge. The trail then is beside a highway being a concrete path mimicking the curves of the nearby highway beside the pine plantations before traveling up a local road around Rainbow Mountain. The last part of the trail is on and off singletrack, and onto a local road past natural hot pools before reaching a thermal resort.
The trail is generally well marked, has good cellular service to Waiotapu with no coverage along the last stretch of Waikite Valley Road. The main services and accommodation for the trail are located at Rotorua.
The full ride can be undertaken in either direction, however, there is a 100 vertical metre descent if going from south to north. Some riders are dropped off by shuttle and only ride the descending trail back to Rotorua.
Please refer to the official trail website and Facebook links for the most recent safety updates, conditions and trail details.