ROTORUA – WHAKAREWREWA
The gem for Bay of Plenty trail runners is the Whakarewarewa Forest, 5700 hectares of mixed forest, hills and lakes. With over 200km of forest roads, walking tracks, horse trails and mountain bike tracks, runners can hit the trails every day and never do the same route twice. The best information source is http://www.redwoods.co.nz, the website of the Redwood Visitor Centre on Long Mile Drive.
Because Whakarewarewa is heavily used for recreational purposes, the signage is much better than in most NZ forest parks, and an excellent booklet with maps and other information can be purchased from the visitors centre or most Rotorua bike shops.
With so many options new runners to the area are strongly advised to take maps with them while they run, hook up with locals, or join the Lake City Athletic Club on their Sunday runs (7am at their Neil Hunt Park clubrooms: http://lakecity.co.nz ).
Please note that while it is possible (and often highly enjoyable) to run on the mountain-bike tracks, the riders have right of way and it’s best to avoid the mountain-bike tracks during peak times (weekends and after-work on weekdays). If you’re lucky enough to be able to run during the 9-5 workday you’ll usually be ok.
ROTORUA – FURTHER ABROAD
The Bay of Plenty is sprinkled with many great tramping tracks that lend themselves well to trail running, all within an hour’s drive of Rotorua. This website has them listed: http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/bay-of-plenty/
Some recommended runs are:
- Whirinaki Forest Park:
- The Whirinaki Mountain-Bike track: 16 & 11km options, undulating well formed track in native bush so stunning that Dr David Bellamy fought to have it protected over 25years ago. Details here: http://www.destinationoutdoors.co.nz/themedetail3.asp?theme=4&id=130&itord=&mytype=img&itemid=130
- Waiatiu Falls track: A 13km flattish track that follows a river upstream to the halfway point at which you cross and return on the other side. Stunning forest, but be warned as it’s hard to keep an eye on the track while you keep getting distracted by the river views. The endangered Whio (Blue Duck) swims here. http://www.destinationoutdoors.co.nz/themedetail3.asp?theme=4&id=110&itord=&mytype=img&itemid=110
- Western Okataina Walkway: A tough, undulating and technical trail, mainly through native bush. Details are here: http://www.doc.govt.nz/parks-and-recreation/tracks-and-walks/bay-of-plenty/rotorua-lakes/lake-okataina-tramping-tracks/ However the best option is to start at the Miller Road end, run up to the trig and return. All well signposted. About 30km return.