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Itinerary: Dirty weekend in Vegas

Want to get down and dirty in New Zealand's version of Vegas? This itinerary is the ultimate weekend escape to the perfectly groomed trails and thermal wonderland of Rotorua.

From gondola-accessed jump lines on the flanks of Mt Ngongotaha to the shuttle-assisted singletrack heaven of Whakarewarewa Forest, this itinerary is packed with mostly descending trails. It's good to be balanced though so test yourself with a spin to the summit of Rainbow Mountain and a lap through the Jurassic-era Moerangi Trail. Recharge each night with a therapeutic thermal swim followed by a culinary feast that you'll find on Eat Streat in town. This weekend is so good that you may even have to tack on a "sick" day.

View this itinerary here.

  • 20120925_CorridorW_GM_0002.jpg
    Whakarewarewa Forest is one of the most established mountain bike networks in New Zealand and has earned a worldwide reputation as one of the best. Also known as the Redwoods, there are more than 180km of trails in the forest that cater for all levels of rider, from beginners, through to family groups and expert riders looking for an extra challenge. From buff flowing trails to fun jump lines and rooty technical singletrack, there is something here for everyone to enjoy. This is the forest that put Rotorua on the world mountain biking map ... come and explore it for yourself. 
  • Gabby Molloy (left) and Justin Leov chase each other down the Grade 2 Simple Jack trail at the Skyline Rotorua MTB Gravity Park. Photo: Nick Lambert
    Skyline Rotorua is home to the world's first year-round Gondola-assisted bike park, Skyline Rotorua MTB Gravity Park. The gravity park accesses the world-class downhill mountain biking trails on the flanks of Mt Ngongotaha. The 8.5km trail network has a variety of trails with something to suit most skill levels. There are six mostly downhill trails emerging from the top of the gondola, ranging from Grade 2 to Grade 5. Home to Crankworx and UCI World MTB events, Skyline Rotorua MTB Gravity Park, has become a must-do highlight on any traveller's itinerary. 
  • A rider drops into a root-infested corner on the Rainbow Mountain MTB track in Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo: Nick Lambert
    The mountain bike track on Rainbow Mountain is a 10km, Grade 2-4 technically challenging loop ride about half an hour's drive from Rotorua. The track is characterised by a range of multi-coloured soil surfaces, which are the result of the volcanic soils and geothermal activity in the area. Riders will enjoy passing over the various soil colours, while traveling past the green volcanic lakes, steaming cliff faces, and red and yellow thermal banks. The trail climbs through native trees and past hot thermal pools with their intriguing volcanic flora. And you can even end this ride with a swim under a piping hot waterfall. 
  • A group of riders pause to soak in the ancient bush of the Moerangi Trail near Whirinaki, New Zealand. Photo: Derek Morrison
    The Moerangi Track is a 35km adventure ride through pristine native forest with historic huts and sections of trail that will bring about an immense sense of accomplishment. The Grade 3 trail will take riders approximately 5-10 hours to ride, and while not technically difficult, the track does traverse some steep bluffs with a few long, grunty climbs. The excellent condition trail leads riders up to 1000m above sea level, before the well-deserved descent of 15km through epic native bush completes the journey. 

More top stories

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    It was the passion of the community for mountain biking and the quality of the trails that convinced Crankworx general manager Darren Kinnaird to bring his beloved festival to Rotorua, New Zealand. 
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    Dave Donaldson is a pillar of the mountain bike community in Rotorua. He wears many hats, but his mountain bike helmet is by far his favourite. He is the Deputy Mayor of Rotorua, a past Master’s World Championship competitor, an instrumental character in bringing large-scale MTB events to New Zealand and a dedicated rider. Dave is involved in mountain biking from policy, governance and events right through to track design and building. We sent former World DH Champion, Scarlett Hagen, out to chat with this inspiring man.