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Stage One – Te Rua Distance: 1.29km Elevation drop: 262m
Steep in places, featuring off camber, lots of roots, and big drops – Te Rua is an honest no nonsense grade 5.
The trail begins adjacent to Eagle vs Shark, and slices between Frontal Lobotomy (Uphill trail) and Eagle vs Shark, before the going gets busy, as the trail plunges downward toward Tarawera Road. A combination of flowing high speed sections higher up, before the gnarliness takes over with steeper lines and a couple of big drops.
The stage finishes near to the intersection of Windy and Hill Rds.
Stage Two – Tihi O Tawa, Billy T Distance: 2km Elevation drop: 176m
After featuring in 2015, Tihi O Tawa/Billy T makes its return to EWS.
Beginning at the high point of the forest, Tihi O Tawa is a classic “native” trail. New Zealand native bush is synonymous with large root systems at the surface. These are quickly exposed further by MTB tires, and as such these become a standout feature. The trail build makes great use of the available gradient and rewards a rider who can carry their momentum.
Riders will then merge onto Billy T. A classic Rotorua trail more than 10yrs old. While not super technical, dial up the speed and it starts to get a bit tougher through the quick successions of corners and occasional tricky root sections. Toward the end of trail are faced with the drop… a steep roll-in to gap jump combination which has claimed many a rider over the years. This will be a popular spectator point.
In 2015, Hatu Patu provided some of the best crashes, carnage, footage, and heckling of the entire event. As such it is only natural it returns in 2017! This time with the inclusion of Dammit Janet to finish the stage.
Rooty, lots of serious off camber and sections you need to carry momentum to clear. If you can clean it you’re in an elite group, there are not many who can consistently pin a clean run through Hatu Patu. Hard enough in the dry, it it’s a bit wet underfoot (as it was in 2015) you’ll be on lines you didn’t even know existed till you got spat onto them by the roots.
Dammit Janet provides some brief respite, initially featuring high speed straight lines through the pines, nothing above a grade 3; until you get to the last feature of the trail. The A line is a loose drop into a short flat before another drop into a very loose corner. The B line is slightly easier but still features a steep dropping corner and a respectably tricky drop.
Tuhourangi iwi kaumatua, Anaru Rangiheuea, named it Hatupatu, after a young man who came to Aotearoa on the Arawa canoe and who used to hunt in the forests around Rotorua. “It’s great the trail network has names that draw attention to the history and legends of this area, adding another dimension to the experience,” says Dave Donaldson, who was one of the main movers in the construction of Tuhoto Ariki and Hatupatu.
Stage Four – Kung Fu Walrus (Full. Incl extension) Distance: 2.43km Elevation drop: 247m
Opened in 2014. Kung Fu became an instant Rotorua Classic, and featured in EWS 2015. From its scenic start point off of Bush Rd, Kung Fu features large stretches of off-camber single track through pine forest are the hallmark of this descending trail.
While most of the trail could be ridden at slow speed if desired, the difficulty increases exponentially with the rider’s speed. With a minimal approach to the build, the trail has naturally evolved with each event that has utilized it and as it weathers naturally. This incremental development keeps it fresh for repeat visits.
The stage has increased in length with the inclusion of the Kung Fu extension. An extra 800m of trail similar in character and challenge to the original Kung Fu, dropping riders down to the shores of Lake Rotokahi (Green Lake). A gravel road sprint along Tikitapu Rd connects the two trails, and the increased oxygen demand from gasping lungs is sure to increase the difficulty of the final section of trail.
Developed ahead on the 2015 EWS, the stage known as “Rocky” is a local favorite. Typically ridden as one, it is in fact 3 unique trails. The challenges come thick and fast, increasing in technicality as the stage progresses.
Descending through a series of swooping turns and straights with potential for high speed, Frankenfurter is littered with many natural terrain features. The trail ducks into mature plantation forest which adds a few rooty sections to the mix, warming you up for what’s to come in the next section – Riff Raff trail. This section of trail is gnarly with steep dropping corners, big rooty sections and some challenging drop offs. Bringing us to the crowning glory; Rocky Horror. As you may have guessed the going gets rocky here. One of the few areas of Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa forest with something other than dirt and tree roots – the boulders are moss covered and unforgiving.
A very technical trail with some extremely steep sections, it’s a different flavor this stage brings that holds its appeal.
The old statesman meets the young gun. Starting at the top of the world renown national downhill. Almost immediately after dropping in the course takes a hard right into the “mushroom line” through the super-fast technical descent, crossing hill road into the river trail before being sent across another road and into one of the new trails Whaki.
Less than a year old, Whaki is hand built trail with off camber turns and sections that will require a bit of talent to carry speed through.
Stage Seven – Corridor, Eastern Spice, Turkish, New Exit, Old Exit Distance: 2.42km Elevation drop: 203m
Quintessentially Rotorua, this is a stage that regularly features (with minor tweaks in variations) in local enduro and Super D events. A physical stage, with a bit of everything; stage 7 is easily accessed by spectators and provides a fitting finale and a real grandstand finish to the Giant Toa Enduro.
The start line is arguably the most photographed location in the Rotorua trail network. Take a moment to enjoy panoramic 360 degree views over Lake Rotorua and the city to the north before diving in.
The open section from the start is fast and flowing with berms and jumps. A brief climb leads through the open area for a short distance before descending into the mature pine trees leading to the descent of Eastern Spice. A combination of drops and rooty corners through native bush and eucalypts will keep riders on their toes. The stage then moves through Turkish Delight. A mellow grade 3, but with a few off camber root infested corners to keep you awake.
Exiting onto Katore Rd, a brief road sprint takes us to Exit trail, featuring a short mellow climb, to access the fabled Old Exit trail. A short, but exciting conclusion to the stage. Highlighted by couple of tight steep corners, drops, steps, and roots. A final chance to get rowdy bringing riders to the finish line.
2016 winners: Matt Walker and Anneke Beerten
Where to spectate:
We’d love to see people out all over the course cheering on the riders! To know where to go, return to this web page on Sunday 19 after 6:15pm to see the course release map telling you where you can go. We’ll also update this section with recommendations on the best spots to watch from.