Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest is a tranquil woodland park crisscrossed by trekking and biking trails. Set off on a hike past thermal ponds and geysers or admire eucalyptus trees and immense Californian Redwoods while horseback riding.
Extensively signposted paths here prevent visitors from getting overwhelmed by this breathtaking 5,600-hectare (13,840-acre) forest. Originally planted at the turn of the 20th century as a means of providing timber, the area is home to an assortment of trees and plants, with native species standing side by side with those from North America, Asia and Europe.
Put on your walking shoes and head out along the Redwood Memorial Grove Track. This 2-kilometre (1-mile) loop leads past an old thermal pond featuring exotic aquatic plants. Look for European larch and towering Californian redwoods, many of which have grown to a height of 67 metres (220 feet). For something a bit more strenuous, try the Tokorangi Pa Track, which offers superb views of Mount Ngongotaha, or the Pohaturoa path, which winds through fields of dense Mexican pine and Japanese larch.
Horse riders can traverse the forest using four dedicated trails. If you’re a novice rider, opt for the 30-minute bridle path. More experienced riders might enjoy the longer Radio Hut Outlook Trail, which offers the chance to see an active geyser and a peculiar pool of bubbling mud.
For more heart-pumping action, explore the spectacular mountain-bike trails. With around 130 kilometres (80 miles) of purpose-built terrain, you are sure to find something to suit your ability. Cruise along the kid’s circuit on the Inner Core Network or test yourself on an exhilarating downhill course. Rent bikes from the Waipa Mountain Bikeparking lot and purchase tickets for shuttle bus services that carry bikers to the top of downhill trails.
Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest is located southeast of Rotorua. The park is open all day and entrance is free. The best place to begin your exploration is at the visitor centre where you can pick up maps and browse a small gift shop that sells handmade wood carvings.