The TECT All Terrain Park is located about halfway between Tauranga and Rotorua, straddling SH36, and accessible from Whataroa Road. It is divided into two main zones, with various activities in each zone. The motorsports zone is located to the east of SH36, and the activity zone, off Weld Road, to the west of SH36. The park covers 1650 hectares of pine and native forest, with parts of the pine forest being clear felled at various times. Information about the park is found on the TECT All Terrain Park web site, including panoramic aerial photos of the park, maps, and details of activities.
There is a single dedicated hiking trail in the park, the Te Rerenga Tunnel Track, a loop track which starts and ends at the park entrance, where there is a parking area and toilet facilities. The track is about 3.2 km long, and is mostly an easy walk. Near the tunnel under SH36 there are steeper sections with steps on steeper parts and bridges across small streams. A torch is highly recommended for passing through the 36 meter long tunnel.
The Kaharoa Kokako Track, also known as Kaharoa Track, Kokako Track, or Hollow Track, leads down from Kapukapu Road to the Onaia Stream. It is located about 30 km by road north of Rotorua, and 55 km south of Tauranga, off Tauranga Direct Road (SH36), via Kaharoa Road and Kapukapu Road. There is a parking area and information panels located by Kapukapu Road about 600 metres from the start of the track. At the track start there is only parking available for 2 or 3 vehicles.
The Kaharoa Kokako Trust was formed in 1997 as a charitable trust to ensure the long-term protection and survival of kokako at Kaharoa. Predator control is an ongoing task in helping to protect the habitat of the endangered kokako as well as other native birds such as kiwi in the Kaharoa Conservation Area.
The Hemo Gorge Trail, a 1.6 km long combined cycle and walkway, runs through Hemo Gorge alongside the Puarenga Stream and SH5/SH30 between Te Puia and the Waipa Mountain Bike park. The trail passes by remains from Rotorua’s early water supply. For part of the trail the walkway branches off and runs closer to the Puarenga Stream than the cycleway. The cycleway is part of the 48 km long Te Ara Ahi cycleway between Rotorua and Waikite Valley.
There is parking available at the southern Te Puia parking area, and toilets at the Waipa Mountain Bike park. Information about the trail can be found on the RotoruaNZ web site. At the Waipa end there is easy access to walking and cycle tracks through the Whakarewarewa Forest, including the walk to the Pohaturoa trig.
There are several short walking tracks in the Lake Okataina Scenic Reserve. Three of these, all to the east of Lake Okataina Road, are accessible directly from Lake Okataina Road. The northernmost, Ngahopua Track, is a loop track with views to two crater lakes, Lake Rotongata and Lake Rotoatua, that traverses a few gentle slopes and climbs. The other two tracks, Anaha and Kepa, are on almost flat terrain and are mostly old vehicle tracks.
Lake Okataina Road branches off State Highway 30 at Ruato by Lake Rotoiti, north-east of Rotorua. Information about the walks can be found on the DoC web site, and a brochure with walks and hikes in the Rotorua area, including a map of tracks in the Lake Okataina area, can be downloaded from the DoC site. Parking is available where the tracks connect to Lake Okataina Road, or by the road leading to the Outdoor Education Centre. Toilets are available at Lake Okataina.
Lake Okareka Walkway is an easy walk of about 2.5 km each way alongside the edge of Lake Okareka from Acacia Road to Lake Okareka outlet. The first part of the walk consists largely of a boardwalk through wetlands, where many aquatic birds can be seen. The continuation from the end of the boardwalk to Silver Beach is along a wide, level track. The last part from Silver Beach to the outlet is narrower, and there are steps at both ends, with the track up to about 10 metres above the lake level. Return to Acacia Road by the same track.
There is a small parking area by Acacia Road at the track start, with no other facilities. However, there are toilets by the boat ramp and car park about 500 metres back along Acacia Road, and there are basic DoC toilets at Silver Beach. Bikes, dogs, and horses are not permitted on the walkway. The walkway start is about 12 km by road from the centre of Rotorua, with Okareka Loop Road branching off the road to Lake Tarawera.
Okere Falls Scenic Reserve is located off SH33 about 20 kms north of Rotorua, and accessed from Trout Pool Road in the small village of Okere Falls. The flow of the Okere River, also known as the Kaituna River, through the scenic reserve is regulated by control gates adjacent to SH33. The first kilometre or so of the river is well known and much used for whitewater rafting and kayaking. Several companies run rafting trips down the river, starting at the control gates and ending at the Trout Pools.
Parking is available alongside SH33, and at parking areas by Trout Pool Road and at the northern end of Trout Pool Road, where there are also toilets and picnic areas. The well formed and easy walkway runs between the two parking areas, with side tracks to lookouts by Okere Falls and Tutea Falls. There are no steps on the main track, but numerous steps on the side tracks to the falls lookouts. Information about the walk and the reserve can be found on the DoC web site.
The 757 m high summit of Mt Ngongotaha, near Rotorua, is accessible by the Jubilee Track, a walking track starting by Paradise Valley Rd, or by walking or biking up the last 5 km or so of Mountain Rd from the carpark and locked gate. The lower part of Jubilee Track is shared with the Nature Loop, an easy 3.7 km long loop with numerous information signs and panels. Unfortunately there are no longer any views of the surrounding area from the summit, due to the regrowth of native bush in the Mt Ngongotaha Reserve.
There is a small car parking area on Paradise Valley Rd next to the Violet Bonnington Reserve and the start of the Nature Loop and Jubilee Track. Basic DoC toilets are located about 100 m from the carpark, next to the track.
Lake Tikitapu or Blue Lake is situated in the Lake Tikitapu Scenic Reserve, alongside Tarawera Road and the Whakarewarewa Forest, a few kilometres south of Rotorua. The lake is used for various watersports and together with the area around it for competitions such as triathlons. A walkway of close to 6 kilometres in length runs all the way around the lake. The walkway is well formed, and has no steep sections and only a few steps. Alternative tracks are available to bypass the steps.
Parking is available directly off Tarawera Road across from the holiday park, near the Okareka Loop Road intersection. Another parking area is also available near the water ski clubhouse, at the northern end of the lake. Toilet facilities are available nearby, but some of them are closed during winter months.
The treewalk mentioned and shown in previous posts from The Redwoods in Whakarewarewa Forest opened to the public in late 2015. The access point to the treewalk is next to the information centre on Long Mile Road, off Tarawera Road. The walkway consists of a fixed starting/ending platform and 22 platforms suspended between 6 and 12 metres above ground in large redwood trees, joined by a series of suspension bridges. The total length of the walkway is just over 550 metres.
Details of the walkway can be found on the official treewalks web site, including the cost of access, the rules for the walk, and requirements such as age and weight limits. Almost anyone who can walk unaided can do the treewalk.
Tokorangi Pa Track is the longest of the three longer walking tracks through the Whakarewarewa Forest. As with the other two, the Pohaturoa Track and the Quarry Track, it starts and ends at the information centre on Long Mile Road, off Tarawera Road. The start of the tracks is covered in the posts with those two tracks, and information about the tracks can be found on the Redwoods site.
The track has a posted length of 11.5 km, with an estimated time of 3 hours 30 minutes to complete the walk. It passes through various forest areas, with several different varieties of trees, but there is no obvious sign of the actual Tokorangi Pa site along the track. A significant part of the track does not have any or only partial shade from trees. The track consists of a loop, marked for walking in a clockwise direction.