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Level: Advanced
Length: 7 mi (11.3 km)
Surface: Singletrack
Configuration: Loop
Elevation: +523/ -537 ft
Total: 8 riders

Mountain Biking Rainbow Mountain Loop

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#17 of 387 mountain bike trails in New Zealand
#2,660 in the world

There is a good map board at the start of the tracks. The two tracks you'll follow to the top of the mountain are shared with walkers. You'll see that you head round the mountain to the right on the Te Ara Ahi trail for a while. There is a good sign where you leave the Te Ara Ahi trail and head up to the top of the mountain. Even if you're a legend you'll end up pushing at least a little of this track which gets quite steep in places. You'll climb about 330 metres. Be sure to stop and take in the sights as you go - especially the cliff with thermal steam rising off it.

There is a forest fire lookout on top of the mountain. If it's manned you'll be welcome to go up into it for a panoramic view over the surrounding forests, lakes, farms and, on a clear day, Mounts Ruapehu and Tongariro, way to the south beyond Lake Taupo.

The way back down is an advanced technical mountain bike trail. It's a wonderful ride - "a seriously sick trail" - intense for the first half with ruts, roots and drops. The second half is fast, flowing and fun. And all the way, traversing the local Jurassic forest. On a fine clear day this is a magical ride.

This description updated by jimcummings, December 2015.

First added by Ginny_Tory on Jun 22, 2013. Last updated May 1, 2020. → add an update
Before you go
  • Drinking water: unknown
  • Lift service: unknown
  • Night riding: unknown
  • Pump track: unknown
  • Restrooms: unknown
  • Fat bike grooming: unknown
  • E-bikes allowed: unknown
  • Fee required: unknown
This trail information is user-generated. Help improve this information by suggesting a correction.
Getting there
Head south on Highway 5 from Rotorua. You'll spot the Rainbow Mountain car park on your right 26km from the Rotorua visitor centre. It's just after the Highway 38 turnoff.
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Trail conditions

Poor (on Oct 25, 2017)
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Rider questions

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  • kiwi_mtb

    You get a hot swim at the end of this one

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  • Bruce Kay

    Couldn't recommend this to any "normal riders" lots of hike a bike up and very downhill/enduro techical bits I couldn't do. Highly eroded in places with big washouts.Track is very overgrown with thorny clothes ripping blackberries at the end, track returning to carpark is overgrown and has woody weeds fallen across it, we gave up and took gravel road back. Might suit some riders but not most in my opinion.

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  • Aggodfrey

    Wasn't that great, you walk your bike up the last third, then walk your bike down the first third of the downhill unless you have body armor. The downhill after that is ok, but there is better in the area without the hike-a-bike involved

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  • Desperado

    This is a very special ride that you should save for a fine day. Take your swimming gear because you'll go past Kerosene Creek where you can take a dip in the warm thermal water.

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  • Jim Cummings

    Save this ride for a fine, clear day and take your camera. The climb up is quite steep on a hiking track but you won't mind pushing your bike part of the way. There is plenty to distract you - no rainbows but red dirt, thermal steam, varied vegetation, sulphur smells and ever better panoramic views. The track down is a dedicated mountain bike trail. It's awesome. If you have advanced riding skills you are going to love Rainbow Mountain.

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