Whakarewarewa, Redwoods Forest
The Redwoods is the jewel in the crown for us in Rotorua. The forest is situated between the city and the Blue Lake and is a short drive from anywhere with numerous access points and car parks. It is free to explore with the excpeption of the Treewalk. You can read about the history at www.redwoods.co.nz
The Redwoods is home to any number of walking tracks, around 150km of mountain bike tracks and an extensive network of horse trails. It's the mountain bike tracks that have really put it on the map however and these are constantly evolving with the hard work of the Rotorua Trails Trust. The tracks host events all year round including Cranworx which brings the world's best riders to Rotorua.
The main entry point to the forest is via Long Mile Road which is also where the Redwoods Treewalk is located. The Visitor Centre has a small gift shop with local crafts and all the information you need to explore the forest including maps. From here, you can walk, ride or trek to just about any of the trails in the forest. The other main entry is via Waipa off state Highway 5. At this entry, you'll find the Mountain Bike Rotorua crew who run a bike workshop, cafe and bike hire. The Secret Spot Hot Tubs is also at the edge of this car park which we highly recommend at the end of a big day walking or riding.
If you're new to the trails and going riding, I recommend purchasing a 'Manky' which is a full map of our trails printed on a fabric hanky. It's a great souvenir and may just save you from getting lost by turning right when you were supposed to go left! There are also free walking maps available or cheaper $5 mountain bike trail maps available at either the Visitor Centre or Mountain Bike Rotorua http://www.mtbrotorua.co.nz.