May 13, 2014

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New Zealand Cycle Touring Route - Rotorua to Cambridge and Return

The idea behind this ride was to do a round trip from Rotorua that included parts of the Rotorua Bike Trail and the Waikato Bike Trail.
In planning the route the main challenge was the section of the main highway between Tirau and Rotorua which was considered to busy to be included so an alternative route was chosen.

Cycleway heading south out of Rotorua

The ride started by using the Rotorua Bike Trail that starts by Lake Rotorua and heads south alongside the main highway. The bike trail is mostly concrete and is separated from the road which is great as it is a busy highway.

The route follows the Rotorua Bike Trail up to Waimangu (26ks from Rotorua) and past Lake Oharo before turning right onto State Highway 38 and then onto State Highway 5 heading south before proceeding to Waiotapu. The ride then goes on Waikite Valley Road to Lake Ohakuri and then to Ongaroto Road. Follow this road to Whakamaru and then Mangakino. It is a total of 114ks from Rotorua to Mangakino. There is ample accommodation available in Mangakino.

As already outlined the ride was planned to include the Rotorua and Waikato bike trails but this proved impractical because the Waikato Bike Trail is not continuous and is more suited to mountain bikes.There is a section of the Waikato bike trail from Whakamaru to Mangakino which gets you alongside the river and is manageable on touring bikes.
In most places on the route the road had sufficient space for bikes and there was minimal traffic.

The next section of the ride is from Mangakino to Arapuni on the Waipapa Road which is a distance of 50ks and includes a significant climb in the middle and a long downhill at the end. Once you have reached Arapuni there are options to choose from. You can ride 14kms into Putaruru or continue on to Cambridge which is a further 40kms.

We went to Putaruru and left out the Cambridge section and headed out of Putaruru for 10kms on the main road to Whites Road and then turned into Leslie road which is the alternative route back to Rotorua via Mamaku. It is 27ks from Whites Road to Mamaku and a further 20.5ks into Rotorua.If you go on to Cambridge you can link back to Leslie Road easily and are only on the main highway for a short time.

Leslie Road leads up through the forest and starts of as a sealed surface but conditions deteriorate as you head up the road with a short stretch of the road being to boggy to ride. As an alternative route to the main highway it is interesting although challenging.

On the cycleway

Leslie Road


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