Whakatane & Ohiwa Harbour
The Whakatane and Ohiwa Harbour Virtually on Track gem has a number of mountain biking options apart from riding on Ohope Beach. Rawhiti Mountain Bike Park has purpose built single track mainly on a steepish site, while Burma Rd from Whakatane to Ohiwa Harbour is a combination of gravel road and farm tracks. Gentler options are offered on the Ohiwa Harbour edge and along the Whakatane River with shared walking and riding paths.
Rawhiti Mountain Bike Park
This purpose built park accessed off Wainui Rd from Ohope has a 15 kilometre network of tracks ranging from the kiddies loop known as Lollipop to Sleepyhead, a specially designed track with jumps and drop-offs for the more adventurous. The park is in a privately owned forest and requires a permit to enter. Permits (which include a trail map) are available at the Whakatane Information Centre, The Whakatane Cycle Centre and the Top Ten Holiday Park in Ohope. Cost is $5 for a two week pass or $25 for a season pass. Rawhiti is predominantly pine forest and it has free draining pumice soils, so there’s good riding all year. It’s steep country, rising from sea level to over 300m, and while the bike trails and 4WD access roads are well formed, they’re seldom immaculately groomed. In other words, it’s good, hard, honest riding, with tracks carrying entertaining names such as ‘Mal’s Mayhem’, ‘Swamp Thing’, ‘Works Whoops’ and ‘Jac-Hammer’. Be prepared for the occasional fallen punga or slip, and unless you’re a machine, you’ll likely need to walk some of the uphills. A trip to the transmitter tower is recommended. This is the highpoint of the area, and through the pine trees you get great glimpses of Ohiwa harbour.
Intermediate Loop: head up Access Road and into Stage Right, through Rat Run and up Heartbreak Hill. Head along the old forestry road to the top of the Eastern Express extension, then back through Mals Mayhem, Swamp Thing and the Exit Track. Should take about 90 minutes with enough time for a rest and a chin-wag.
Advanced Loop: heading up Access Road then riding Stage Right, Rat Run, Heartbreak Hill then the Transmitter Trek. From there you can either come down Eastern Express or Jeffs', either way you should ride the lower section of Express. Then down Mayhem, Swamp Thing and the Saplings.
Ohope/Burma Road Loop
If you're keen for a simple family spin, go to Maraetotara Reserve in Ohope, ride up the unsealed Maraetotara Road into the bush-edged Burma Rd. It's a great ride through bush and farmland and climbs 120m. From the top you'll meet the main Ohope-Whakatane highway, from where there's a busy cycle-way back down the hill to Ohope. Complete your loop along Pohutukawa Ave or along the Ohope Beach.
Whakatane to Rawhiti Mountain Bike Park
An off-road link from Whakatane to Rawhiti Mountain Bike Park is a useful option for weekday evening or morning rides. Using the Whakatane-Ohope cycleway as far as Burma Rd, riders then travel down Burma Rd until it meets a T junction with Maraetotara Rd. Turn right and follow the farm track across Ngati Awa Farm as far as Rawhiti Mountain Bike Park. Gates are likely to be shut on the farm and riders may encounter farm traffic or stock – as always, courtesy is appreciated. It’s a 30km round trip with moderate climbing required.
As an alternative to using the road, there is a formed cycleway all the way from Whakatane to Ohope. The 10km track is either concrete or fine gravel and extends all the way from the bottom of Mokorua Gorge in Whakatane to Ohope. It is steep in places and bicycles and traffic is two way. Please take care.
Ohiwa Harbour Cycle Path
From the Ohiwa Beach Holiday Park a dual use walking and cycle trail follows the harbour’s edge around to the boat ramp on Ohiwa Loop Rd – easy grade, approximately 8km return.
Warren Cole Walkway
Although it’s called a walkway, the Warren Cole Walkway which follows the Whakatane River from the Landing Road bridge to the Whakatane Heads is open to cyclists. The picturesque ride is an 8.4km return trip and passes a number of interesting features including traditional waka, Mataatua wharenui and contemporary artwork relating to Moko the dolphin and Whakatane’s kiwi project.