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Des Williams.

Des Williams

By Des Williams, DOC Communications Advisor

I was especially proud of my old home town—Tuatapere, in Western Southland—when I returned for a rare visit on New Year’s Eve and New Year’s Day.

A little glade through the Tuatapere Scenic Reserve was resplendent with several large flowerings of Peraxilla colensoi which is more commonly known as scarlet mistletoe.


Scarlet mistletoe at Tuatapere Scenic Reserve

I have never seen such brilliant colour in the reserve before—mind you I am never there at this time of year.

DOC’s Invercargill-based botanist/ecologist, Brian Rance, told me that this part of the reserve is a noted site (and so close to the road), as are other parts of the reserve around the Tuatapere Domain.

So, I now add scarlet mistletoe to the broad sweep of Te Waewae Bay, the Hump Ridge and Fiordland mountains, the Longwoods silver beech forest and Takitimu Mountains as icons of my birth place!

Longwoods silver beech forest at Tuatapere. Photo: Alastair Morrison.

Longwoods silver beech forest at Tuatapere

Rob Griffiths, a ranger based in the Rotorua Lakes Area Office, takes us along the newly developed mountain bike loop in the Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve.

Recent upgrades to tracks and new developments in the Rainbow Mountain Scenic Reserve near Rotorua have created a fantastic mountain bike loop in an amazing geothermal setting.

DOC Ranger Rob Griffiths on the Rainbow Mountain Loop. Photo: Alan Ofsoski.

DOC Ranger Rob Griffiths on the Rainbow Mountain Loop

Already this trail is being touted by locals as the best mountain biking in Rotorua outside of the Whakarewarewa Forest. This new trail is sure to soon be on everyone’s to-do list.

It is a well paced ride/walk but it can be kind of a steep ride up to the summit. The incline gives the perfect reason to take multiple stops to catch your breath and take in the beautiful natural environment, geothermal activity and learn a little along the way.

Crater Lake on Rainbow Mountain.

Quick stop to check out the Crater Lake

Catch your breath (again) at the summit as you soak up the amazing views from the summit. The 360 degree view from the top has been described as the best view “this side of Tongariro”. Next up is a fast and fun descent down to Te Ranga, where you can relax in the cascading waters of the geothermal heated stream.

Team on Rainbow Mountain Loop during the Rotorua Bike Festival. Photo: Alan Ofsoski

Checking out the Rainbow Mountain Loop during the Rotorua Bike Festival.

The Australian Mountain Biking magazine gave a glowing endorsement of Rainbow Mountain during their review of the Rotorua Bike Festival in February pointing out the “geothermal steam rising from the flanking forests and coloured cliffs”.

For more information and a map on the new loop check out the Rainbow Mountain mountain bike loop flyer.

View from the top of Rainbow Mountain. Photo: Alan Ofsoski.

View from the top