As mountain bikers we often settle into riding our old favourites every time we reach for our bikes. Familiarity can wear thin though, so sometimes it's good to try something new. Each main centre has a core trail that's often the go-to for locals, but every region has some gold that’s not quite as popular but equally as good.
So why not try something a bit different next time you’re heading out for a ride?
Woodhill Mountain Bike Park is back in action after its Covid-induced closure. The trails have been buffed and they’re ready to go! If you’re a regular, you’ll have your favourites, but if you’re a new rider be sure to chat with the local crew to find out which tracks best suit your ability.
If you haven't yet visited FourForty Mountain Bike Park, south-east of Auckland, now could be the time. Either utilise their uplift service and hit the gravity tracks, or take on the Anti-Gravity climbing trail to get to the top of the hill on your e-bike or under your own steam. A range of trails are available, with everything from groomed, digger-built flow to native roots and steeps. The park is seasonal, so check FourFortys Facebook page for the latest trail conditions and operating hours.
Meander your way along the Hamilton River Path network to the Pukete Farm MTB Park for a lap, then back to the central city for an après-ride pint. With minimal climbing and an easy trail grade, Pukete MTB Park is a great outing for all levels of rider, regardless of what mountain bike they’re on.
Often overlooked, Cambridge’s Te Miro MTB Park has something for everyone. From the family favourite “Big Willy” – a Green / Easy trail that circumnavigates the water reservoir – to the newly opened grom favourite “17 Hundy” – a flow trail scattered with big berms and jumps. Gobblers Knob is another beginner favourite, just follow your nose around PD Track and the Easy Up climb to get to the trail head. For those looking for a bit more adventure, you couldn't go wrong with a lap of the native bush, climbing Gloworm to access Phils Gold. Scattered with roots, Phils Gold is a locals’ favourite. Take a loaf of white bread, a pack of sausages and some tomato sauce and whip yourself up a post-ride meal on the public BBQ at the carpark.
Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park has been a cornerstone of Wellington MTB since the park’s formal inception in 1998, with a range of trails to suit all abilities. Pick up a coffee from your favorite downtown spot, head to Makara, and as you’re taking your last sip you should be turning into the main car park. If you haven’t got too many rides under your belt, head out around the “Fern Loop” – a well maintained entry-level trail that incorporates the Koru and Lazy Fern tracks. If you’re ready for more of a challenge, there are countless loops that can be added in to build your ride as you go.
If you’re looking for something nice and mellow for the whole family, consider the Hutt River trail. There are 70-plus kilometres of mixed-surface, mellow bike path to choose from, so why not make a day of it. Park at the Hikoikoi Reserve on Marine Parade in Petone and make your way north. Ride until you’re hungry, stop for lunch at a trail-side suburb, then head south on the trail back to the start of your ride.
Any self-respecting Christchurch mountain biker will probably know the Port Hills trails like the back of their hand. If you're visiting for the weekend, it’s a great place for a solid ride. Head from the city up the Rapaki Track to get nice and warm, then roll along the Bowenvale Traverse track towards Sign Of The Kiwi, and continue past this up to Flying Nun. Once you summit at the entrance to “The Nun”, take a breather and drop in for the lengthy run down to the Christchurch Adventure Park (CAP) via Choir Boy and Loess Rider. This run is sure to bring a grin to even the best of riders’ faces. Once on the valley floor, grab a snack at the park’s afe, then either spin your way home, or if you’re up for something a bit more epic, grind your way up the CAP Uphill Trail and retrace your wheel tracks back to Rapaki.
If you haven’t ventured over the hill to the Urumau Reserve MTB Trails in Lyttelton, now could be the perfect opportunity! While it’s not a huge network of tracks, if you’re looking for something fresh to ride it could be right up your alley. With trails winding their way through the bush, it makes a nice change from the Port Hills where you’re fully exposed to the elements. With Lyttelton's great cafes only a short ride away, it would be rude not to start (and finish?) your ride with a local brew!
Grab your mates, fill your car’s tank, don your knee pads and get ready for a day of social laps on some classic Dunners tracks. Follow Signal Hill Road to the summit, then take your pick of the multiple tracks that start from the car park. With easy vehicle access, vehicle shuttling is an easy way to get maximum descending for minimum exertion. Signal Hill’s trails are predominantly intermediate level, so if you aren’t a reasonably confident rider it may be better to head for one of the other trails scattered through the Dunedin area. The Wakari Creek Trails (aka Redwoods) off Wakari Road would suit a quick jaunt, and are suitable for a wider range of skill levels than Signal Hill.
If you’re reasonably fit and keen for a bit of an adventure that’s not too technically demanding, the Mountain Track Loop route out of Warrington (north of Dunedin) could be of interest, especially if you’re aboard a gravel or cyclocross bike. A reasonably physical 40km takes in some amazing scenery as you wind your way through forestry and farm roads. For details of how to complete the loop check HERE.
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