Waihaha Trail - Out & BackBeginner
Submitted by Mike Tennent
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Front country - easily accessible
Out and Back
Undulating, small hills only
Native bushPlantation/exotic forestRiversideLakesideOpen farmlandsOpen ridges/tops
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This trail comprises the first 11.5 (or 13km if you believe the signs) of the Taupo Ultra-Marathon. But it is really a great run on its own.
As it has been designed as a bike trail the climbs are for the most part very gentle and at worst they are slightly tough.... there are enough of them though that you will be feeling it by the end. Very early on you have the almost obligatory swing-bridge over the river and then you climb gently up to the top of the bluffs where you get some great views of the surrounding country and of the wonderful rock formations bordering the river.
The trail on the day I ran it was hard and fast, but there were signs that it could have been a bit sloshy when wet. About 7km in there's a table bench engraved with the names of the people who had supported the project... check them out as it is great if we can support them as well... then look to your right and you will see Waihaha Falls. It looks so inviting in the distance, but to the best of my knowledge there is no way down to it.
Not long after that you get your first view of Lake Taupo... if it is morning as it was for me you get the sun shining off the lake and it all looked magic!
Not far after that you wind away from the river and across next to some farmland with a whole range of different running conditions. Typical winding switchbacks made for bikes, but still nice to run.
Then before you know it you are at the signpost that designates the end of the Waihaha section of the trail and the beginning of the Waihora section. There is also a loo there... there was actually paper in it (but not in the one at the start) but it always pays to carry it.
Because the trail is so windy and undulating it feels quite different running back and not at all like a repeat of the way out.
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Features of interest
Waihaha Waterfall is definitely worth a stop and admire break... a shame that you cannot get down to it.
Make Up of Run
Untracked / Route only: 0%
Technical Single Track: 5%
Moderate Single Track: 25%
Easy Single Track: 70%
Farm Road / 4WD Track: 0%
Gravel Road: 0%
Sealed Road: 0%
The trail starts off the Western Bay Road that travels from Whakamaru in the North to Turangi in the South. As it is the start of the Great Lake Trail it is well signposted from both directions.
There is off -highway parking available out of site of the road which is both a good and bad thing. Probably not wise to leave valuables in your vehicle.
You are able to be shuttled to the start from Kinloch... run both the Waihaha and the Waihora Trails and then catch a water taxi back to Kinloch. Go to this site for details of the various operators https://www.greatlaketaupo.com/things-to-do/biking/great-lake-trail/services-shops/bike-shuttles/
You really cannot go wrong with this trail.
Long-sleeved thermal top, Windproof jacket, Personal Locator Beacon (PLB), Whistle, First aid kit, Extra food for emergencies, Survival blanket, Cellphone, Map.
Funnily enough, although you see a lot of water, there is virtually nowhere where you can access it. The few places I saw had run through farmland and I am very dubious about drinking that without a top grade filter.
After wet weather you may find it slippery. Also that area is prone in winter to being extremely cold in a southerly - it tends to whip over Ruapehu/Tongariro and send an icy blast over the central plateau. So if running in winter it pays to have some warm gear!
Nothing of note unless muddy!
Post run indulgence
The Dam Cafe - if you are travelling north
On the corner of State Highway 32 and State Highway 30 at Whakamaru
Friendly people and good food... oh and their coffee is pretty good too. Have stopped there many times now and never been let down!
Victoria's Cafe Kitchen Bar - Taupo
127 Tongariro Street, Taupo
Top food... you can have a beer... nice people
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