Tourism Minister announces Whakarewarewa Forest Loop as Great Ride
Friday 6 May 2022
TOURISM AND ECONOMIC AND REGIONAL DEVELOPMENT MINISTER STUART NASH ANNOUNCES WHAKAREWAREWA FOREST LOOP AS NGĀ HAERENGA GREAT RIDE
Today at a ceremony held in Rotorua, Tourism Minister Stuart Nash officially opened the Whakarewarewa Forest Loop trail and announced it will be added to the Ngā Haerenga Great Rides network.
Tangata whenua opened the ceremony with a karakia and attendees from CNI Iwi Holdings Limited, Timberlands Limited, Rotorua Trails Trust, Kānoa - Regional Economic Development & Investment Unit (RDU), Rotorua Lakes Council, and members of the mountain biking community were present.
Tourism and Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash said “Cycle trails are experiencing a boom in popularity and the creation of new Great Rides is another drawcard for international tourists. This week we welcomed back travellers from key northern hemisphere markets, after visitors from our largest market Australia began arriving last month.
“The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop trail is a fantastic trail that offers a great off-road mountain biking experience. Not only does it deliver in terms of a high-quality physical ride, it offers a taste of Māori culture, geothermal features and iconic Redwoods, with spectacular views over several lakes.
“It’s a good introduction to single-track off-road mountain biking and complements the nearby intermediate level Great Rides, the Timber Trail and the Great Lakes Trail. Being close to Rotorua, it gives trail users access to a wide range of visitor services, facilities and attractions.
“The trail has been developed thanks to a $7,090,000 investment from Kānoa, the regional economic development unit in MBIE, and includes upgrades to Long Mile Road and construction of Te Pūtake o Tawa - the carpark and mountain bike hub on Tarawera Road. It is a great example of effective collaboration between central and local government, the local community and iwi. It has the backing of the Rotorua Lakes Council to fund ongoing maintenance and operations by the Rotorua Trails Trust.”
Rotorua Mayor, Steve Chadwick, says “It was fantastic to see the Minister back in Rotorua today. This shows how important tourism and the visitor industry is to our city.
“Today’s announcement is a testament to the exceptional and collaborative work done by many to bring this concept to life. I know it has been a long time aspiration of the biking community in Rotorua so it is with great pride that we have seen it become part of the Great Rides network today.
“The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop is a wonderful ride – one that riders of all abilities can enjoy and achieve, taking in some of the most beautiful parts of our forest which, thanks to the generosity of CNI and mana whenua, locals and visitors continue to enjoy access to.
“This is one of the first tourism announcements since the borders have reopened and demonstrates how things are changing and moving forward.
“Our destination management plan helps to keep the Rotorua brand fresh, and projects like the forest loop ensure that Rotorua remains a top mountain biking destination, a destination of choice for all manuhiri, and one that they want to keep coming back to.”
The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop was constructed as part of the Whakarewarewa Forest Development which aims to enrich the forest experience for all. In 2018, Rotorua Lakes Council received match funding from the Provincial Growth Fund, administered by Kānoa – RDU, to complete the development. To date this has included the upgrade of Tītokorangi Drive (previously Long Mile Road), the construction of Te Pūtake o Tawa (the new forest hub off Tarawera Road), the Whakarewarewa Forest Loop, cultural foundation elements that work to connect the past and present, tradition and innovation, tangata whenua and manuhiri, and work is underway to improve the cycling connection between the forest and the city.
The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop was always constructed with the intention to become a NZCT Great Ride. The 33km circular mountain bike trail takes riders through some of the iconic features that Rotorua mountain biking is renowned for - fun trails, Māori culture, Redwood trees, geothermal activity, and stunning views.
Being mostly a Grade 2 track, with a couple of Grade 3 sections mixed in, the Loop is designed to be accessible for people of almost all ages, abilities and fitness levels. The trail showcases Rotorua mountain biking to people who may not have had the opportunity to experience these iconic features on more advanced trails.
As part of the forest development, funding from Kānoa – RDU was used to develop an iwi-centred brand for the forest, ‘Moerangi’ which reflects the natural landscape of the rohe - particularly the two maunga, Ngongotahā and Moerangi, as well as the overall Whakarewarewa Forest Loop branding. This was formally handed over to CNI Iwi Holdings Limited during the ceremony today.
Council has also been working with tangata whenua to create an app for the forest which will tell the stories of the land and its people as riders make their way around the loop. It will also operate as a way-finding tool.
Learn more about riding the Whakarewarewa Forest Loop HERE.
Mountain biking, trail walking and running in the Tokorangi and Whakarewarewa forests are part of Rotorua’s DNA. Since the late 1980s, Rotorua Lakes Council has worked alongside the landowners, iwi representatives and users (who form the more recently established Rotorua Trail Trust), to strategically develop and leverage these unique natural assets.
The trails attract an estimated 230,000 people for mountain biking and up to 800,000 other visitors each year. The Whakarewarewa Forest Development has provided the infrastructure necessary to support the continued enjoyment of this asset for all visitors, and take advantage of the economic, social, cultural and environmental potential the asset provides to our region.
The Whakarewarewa Forest Development has received a $7.09million Government investment managed by Kānoa - RDU, which has been used alongside $7.5million from Rotorua Lakes Council, to enhance the forest amenity and improve the experience for all. This is a collaborative project between CNI Iwi Holdings Limited and Rotorua Lakes Council, with the support and guidance of mana whenua. Timberlands has also supported the development.
For more information on the Whakarewarewa Forest Development project visit visiontoaction.nz.