A 26km drive from Rotorua on the road south towards Taupo is a lone mountain that pops out of the lush green rolling hills, smack bang on top of some very active geothermal ground. Rainbow Mountain is a wonderful experience, the trail is challenging and fun to ride, the native bushland is amazing and peculiar and finishing the ride with a swim in a natural hot spring is bliss. Flow and Enduro World Series racer Anka Martin explored the mystical place, here is what we found.
Rotorua, sitting on all these geothermal hotspots, is quite a special place, unlike anywhere else that I’ve ever ridden, but I’ve always been drawn to and fascinated by Rainbow Mountain and the trail that they built there. – Anka Martin, Ride House Martin/Team SRAM Juliana Racing
The ride takes you up to the top on a multi-use shared trail, it’s a bit of a grovel to climb up, but with multiple rest spots along the way at many of the viewing platforms, the climb is broken up nicely. It’s worth it, and you’ll no doubt want to do it all again when you get back down.
Feel the hot ground beneath your tyres, and the warm smoke drifting across your path.
You’ll come across little pockets of bubbling mud and boiling water and steam coming out of the rock gardens, creeping out all over the trails and hanging eerily in the forest.
Rainbow Mountain has a very sacred, very spiritual feeling to it, to me anyways and I find it very different to riding in the Whakarewarewa Forest, which is also stunningly beautiful, but Rainbow Mountain feels like this special mountain filled with otherworldly spirits and powers.
After an eyeful of massive views, the singletrack takes you down the other side, the fun way!
Divided in two parts, the top half is a hand built trail. Narrow, tricky and exciting, it keeps you on your toes. And after crossing the fire road the descending trail takes on a very different flavour, with big machine built turns and more predictability letting the speeds get higher and higher.
Under stunning rimu trees, and past hot spots of thermal activity under your tyres, the descent is fun, beautiful and fascinating.
I know this might sound pretty airy fairy, but this mountain is unlike any other mountain I’ve ever ridden my bike. It sticks with you and makes you wonder about nature and mother earth and how insignificant and small we are.
The 360 degree view from the top is magnificent, and the trail that they built is so much fun. A great mixture between natural and groomed, jungle & new growth, fast & flowy, guaranteed to make you grin, hooting and hollering all the way to Kerosene Creek – a hot river at the bottom of the trail and another baffling element that I’ve never experienced elsewhere.
To cap off a brilliant ride, the trail ends at Kerosene Creek. A natural hot spring for swimming and relaxing, in true Kiwi style.
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For more details and directions to Rainbow Mountain, visit Ride Rotorua.