The Great Lake Trail – A Taster – Taupo, New Zealand

When we did The Timber Trail ride back in February, Ted from Tread Routes said we may also like The Great Lake Trail near Taupo.  I had the opportunity to ride the first 20km last Friday and Kinloch turned on a stunner.  We met Sheree & Matthew in Taupo on the Thursday night and had a lovely meal at The Brantry.  After a hearty breakfast in Taupo on Friday morning Steve headed for the golf course at Wairakei and Sheree, Matthew & I went to Kinloch to meet Ted.  Ted was providing the bikes and a shuttle from Kinloch to the start of the trail at Orakau.

We were going to ride two parts (links) of the trail – Orakau to Kawakawa (9.8km) and Kawakawa to Kinloch or the K2K link (9.2km).  There had been a bit of rain so the track was quite wet to start with and there were a few trees across the track which we had to manhandle.  We also came across some very large hoof prints in the track which also made the riding fun.  It wasn’t long before we discovered who the hoof prints belonged to – some large black beefies who took off at a rate of knots into the bush when we came along.  Just prior to that Sheree had managed a spectacular dismount – luckily there was no harm done 🙂  The trail follows the Orakau Stream and Harakeke (flax) wetland and regenerating native bush down to Kawakawa Bay on the edge of Lake Taupo.  This part of the trail is generally downhill and offers stunning views across the lake to the volcanoes of Tongariro National Park. 


 After admiring the crystal clear waters at Kawakawa Bay it was back on the bikes for a climb through native bush to the Te Kauwae Headland.  The views from the high point across the lake and up to the Western Bays were spectacular.  We were so lucky to have a clear day so we could enjoy the views.  The trail then descends towards Kinloch with the last part of this section along the lake edge.  We encountered some mountain bikers coming the other way as we got closer to Kinloch. 



Ted had told us that the General Store at Kinloch did good coffee and food so after locking the bikes up we made our way to there.  Ted was right – the food was good – the things you would find at a Takeaways.  I had a Vege Burger and Kumara Chips – soul food after a jaunt through the bush on a bike : )

The 20km introduction to the Great Lake Trail has certainly inspired me to do the entire trail in the future.

The 71km Great Lake Trail is a grade 3 trail composed of six links (trails) which can be broken down into three sections. On the western side of Lake Taupo is a 30 km section (Waihora & Waihaha links) and on the northern side is a further 41 km of track in two sections (Orakau & K2K links and the W2K & Headland links). The shelter on the Kinloch Domain has a large map and can be the starting point for W2K (Whakaipo to Kinloch) and K2K (Kinlock to Kawakawa) tracks. There is no link between the end of the Waihora link (Kotukutuku Stream in Waihora Bay) and Orakau or K2K links. A boat transfer is required to get between these areas or back to Kinloch. The Great Lake Trail is a two way trail but for the best riding or walking experience, ride or walk in a west to east direction. Cycle the whole track in two or three days or break it up and choose the sections/links you want to enjoy.  The trail can be used year round as the free draining pumice soil surface means that even in wet weather there is little or no mud.
For more information check out


This blog was originally set up to share our 9 month adventure around Europe and the USA with friends and family in 2014. On returning to NZ in January 2015 I decided to carry it on so I could continue to share any future travel adventures - it has become my electronic travel diary. I hope you enjoy and get inspired to visit some of the wonderful places we have visited.
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