Section three of the Great Lakes Trail is not easy to get to. As it is 31 km long I wasn’t game to do a return trip so I paid a shuttle to drop me off at the start, and pick me up off the beach by boat at the end.
The Waihaha Trail starts on Western Bays Rd (Highway 32) where it crosses the river, which then descends through a rocky sided gorge that is quite unusual. The trail stays quite high, so after a while the river is far below.
At one point I saw a large rock outcrop that looked ridable, even though there was an obvious bypass. At the last minute I thought I better check it first, in case it was a view point with a sheer drop. As it turned out it was quite safe, so I rode back up the trail and blasted down over it.
Later on I rode (slowly) over a rock exactly like this, thoughtfully named “Darwin’s Corner”. Someone has interfered with evolution and the improvement of the human gene pool by erecting a fence.
When I got my first view of Lake Taupo I was pleased to see how far down it was. There was a bit of down after that, then a long climb back up to what I suspect is the high point of the track.
I was about to ride past one curved rock face when I read the sign: “Echo rock – stop and listen”. I walked around for a bit, and shouted a couple of times, then decided it was false advertising and went to get back on my bike. When I moved next to the bike seat I suddenly heard the babbling creek on my right echoing off the wall. It was almost as loud – natural stereo!
I came around one corner to see a seat looking out over a valley and facing a similar seat just a few hundred metres away. The track, of course, wound its way all the way down the bottom of the valley to where the bridge is, then all the way back up.
I stopped and ate lunch on the second seat, looking through a V in the rocky cliffs at Lake Taupo in the distance. The photograph after that view has the first seat in the middle of it, but it isn’t easy to see.
There are lots of attractive viewpoints along the Waihora Trail, which basically follows the coast back towards Kinloch.
The last couple of kilometres zig-zag down a steep valley, and ends up crossing the stream each time after passing beside a waterfall.
All the way down I was catching an Irish couple that I had talked to at the Piropiro campsite on the Timber Trail, so I took my time and arrived at the boat a minute after they did.
Wally the boat driver told us that this whole area of Taupo used to only be accessible by boat because it is so remote. The Western Bays are a beautiful piece of coastline, I’d like to come and kayak it some day.