The main reason we moved to Rotorua to begin Nzo is the forest next to town. Stretching some 15kms south of town along the road to Taupo, Whakarewarewa is accessible, has a good variety of terrain, and a wide range of plantation tree species mixed with pockets of native forest.
Nzo people know this forest very well. We have what we think is the best map so far developed hanging on the wall of our shop at 1141 Amohau St, and you don't need to feel like you have buy anything to drop in and get the low-down from any of us - we all know where to send you, depending what you are looking for.
This is Maori land, with recreation managed by Rotorua Lakes Council. There is a legal right of access by the public for recreational activities but land owners and forestry management go far beyond their obligations to make the forest such a great playground for bike riders.
The forest contains one of the oldest trail systems in the world, arguably the best in New Zealand and definitely the one that set the standards for the others that have followed. Brainchild of one of New Zealand mountainbiking's true visionaries, Fred Christensen, the Redwoods is the core of the trail system. It was originally designed to pack as much fun into a small area as possible.
That concept has expanded to encompass the whole forest, and the work done by the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club to develop the resource is hard to believe.
You can ride all day, without any repeated sections, while never getting further than about 10 kms in a straight line from the trailhead. Even when the carpark is full, the generally one way system keeps the forest from feeling crowded. The trails are ideal for introducing friends and family to the sport, as they are generally pretty mellow, but they have enough challenges if the speed is cranked up that expert class riders come back again and again. Access the Redwoods from the mountain biking carpark off State Highway 5, follow the signs. You can rent bikes from Mountain Bike Rotorua, who also have great coffee, snacks, and a basic repair operation. They are super helpful people and really know the woods, see them at the trailhead.
There is a Visitor Centre in LongMile Rd where you can get up to date information and maps. Call in and tell the staff how cool the trails are. The Redwood grove around this area is full of walking tracks, and horse tracks, and is off limits to bike riders.
If you want to start your ride here, go to the far end of Longmile Rd from Tarawera Rd and cross the gate to head up the tarsealed climb of Nursery Road. The trail system has an entrance at the top of the hill.
Detail on individual trails is kept up to date at RideRotorua.com