Coming up in March is a massive festival celebrating everything mountain biking. Crankworx Rotorua will be bringing mountain bikers from all over the world to sample New Zealand's best riding from March 17th to the 25th. Not only is EVERYONE encouraged to go and spectate and support the official events, but what else can us spectators expect to see and do to fill in the gaps? Luckily for people like us who aren't the fastest, craziest, or highest flying, there is plenty to see and do in Rotorua!
If you want to go off historical records, the weather in March is going to be amazing. Get ready to pack in as much as possible while you are visiting Rotorua to watch the pro's huck their meat, don't forget to treat yourself to some of the best things to do in the country. Rotorua has it all. Rides for the family, rides for the aspiring mountain biker, and rides for the most hard core.
A great place to start is Whakarewarewa Forest (more comonly known as The Redwoods). Here we have everything from kids loops right down in the valley that you can take bite size chunks of depending on your skill level and fitness all the way through to big rides where you are going to the top of every hill only to come down again on anything from the best flow trail you can imagine or on a steep rutty and rooty off camber master piece.
The Whakarewarewa Forest is a working forest (meaning that there is logging going on) but is managed really well by all parties involved. The local council administers it, the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club and Rotorua Trails Trust make sure that trails are well signed and maintained and there is even a shuttle that is there to drive you to the top of the hill if your more interested in the gravity assisted model of mountain biking. Bike hire is available from many places (bike shops) depending on what you are after.
If you really want to make the most of a good day out on the bike, and spend more time riding than looking for what to ride, then it is highly recommended to hire a local guide to show you around and take you to the best trails to suit you right away. This is a great way to get introduced to the forest and maximize the fun! But other than the forest, what else is there to do???
There is soo much to do in Rotorua other than ride a bike. It all depends on your spirit of adventure, level of fitness, and how much cash you have in your back pocket. There are the obvious things that people travel for Rotorua for - the culture & geothermal activity (which is where tourism in Rotorua started), but don't forget the lakes, the rafting, the hiking and the food!
If you get excited about plunging off of the world's highest commercially rafted waterfall then Rotorua is the place to raft. If hanging out and going for a walk around a pristine lake is more your cup of tea, then you might want to try something a little more relaxing and go for a stand up paddle on the Blue Lake or get some friends together and live it up cruising on Lake Rotoiti for a sunset BBQ and hot pool. You can even experience a trip back in time in New Zealand's pristine forest with a canopy tour or out to Whirinaki Forest for a bike ride.
Any way, back to the mountain biking.. Crankworx Rotorua is the first of four stops on a world tour hitting some of the world's best mountain biking destinations. If it's the event that your mainly here for or if it's just a really good excuse to make it to Rotorua you should probably know what the festival has going on. There is a bit of something for everyone. From woman's only rides to qualifying events for the Enduro World Series through to the McGazza Slopestyle which is always a crowd favorite.
The first four days of events are free to spectate which we like. In the first four days the main events that are great to watch are the Toa Enduro, Redwods DH, and the secondary school champs. Theses are all events that are based in the Redwoods. For the last five days, the main events are all based at Skyline Rotorua. These are the big hitting events like the slopestyle, Crankworx DH, speed and style. For the full schedule click here.
Hopefully a couple of seeds have been planted. Now when you arrive in Rotorua you will hit the ground rolling and know what you want to see and do when it comes to the festival but you also have a great time in the area! Don't be afraid to leave the bike at home for a half a day and visit some of the lakes or rivers or take your bike with you everywhere and enjoy the ride!