New Zealand, a country synonymous with breathtaking landscapes and adventurous outdoor activities, offers an incredible range of mountain bike trails that cater to every level of rider, from beginners to experienced thrill-seekers. Its diverse terrain, consisting of lush forests, rugged mountains, serene lakes, and dynamic coastlines, makes it a globally recognized destination for mountain biking enthusiasts.
One of the unique aspects of mountain biking in New Zealand is the sheer variety of trails available. These range from gentle, family-friendly tracks to hardcore, technically challenging routes that push even the most seasoned bikers to their limits. The country’s topography allows for a diverse array of riding experiences. You can find smooth, flowing single-tracks through ancient forests, exhilarating downhill runs with stunning backdrops, and long, scenic cross-country routes that offer immersive experiences in New Zealand’s natural beauty.
New Zealand’s mountain bike trails are often set in some of the most picturesque landscapes in the world. The country’s commitment to preserving its natural environment means that many trails wind through pristine conservation areas, offering riders the chance to experience the local flora and fauna up close. This environmental stewardship, combined with a well-developed network of trails, ensures that the trails are not only exciting to ride but also sustainable and respectful of the natural surroundings.
The country’s mountain biking scene is also characterized by its well-maintained and clearly marked trails, many of which are part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail project. This government-supported initiative aims to showcase the country’s landscape, culture, and heritage by creating a network of world-class cycling trails. The trails are designed to be accessible, allowing people of all ages and abilities to enjoy the beauty of New Zealand on two wheels.
Moreover, New Zealand’s mountain biking culture is supported by a community of passionate riders and organizations that are dedicated to the development and maintenance of the trails. Local biking communities often host events and races, which range from fun, family-oriented gatherings to competitive endurance races that attract international participants. These events not only provide an opportunity for riders to test their skills but also foster a sense of camaraderie and community among bikers.
Another factor that makes New Zealand a premier mountain biking destination is the accessibility of its trails. Many of the top biking spots are located near major towns and cities, making them easily reachable for both locals and tourists. Accommodation options ranging from camping to luxury lodges are often available close to trailheads, catering to the needs of all types of travelers.
The country’s varied climate also plays a role in its mountain biking appeal. Depending on the region and time of year, riders can experience everything from snow-capped mountain trails to sunny coastal paths. This climatic diversity ensures that there is always a trail that is in prime condition for riding, no matter the season.
This article aims to explore 10 of the most awesome mountain biking experiences throughout New Zealand. Each trail selected not only represents the best of what New Zealand has to offer in terms of mountain biking but also encapsulates the diverse, exhilarating, and scenic nature of the country’s landscapes. From the legendary single-track trails in lush forests to epic adventures in high alpine environments, these trails are sure to provide unforgettable experiences for every mountain biking enthusiast. Whether you are looking for a leisurely ride through stunning natural settings or seeking an adrenaline-fueled adventure, New Zealand’s trails have something to offer everyone.
Here are 10 of the best mountain biking experiences in New Zealand!
Old Ghost Road
The Old Ghost Road offers an epic journey for the adventurous mountain biker. Stretching 85 kilometers, it’s New Zealand’s longest single-track trail. The route traverses through breathtaking landscapes, including dense native forests, open tussock tops, and steep river gorges. The trail is technically challenging, with narrow, gravel singletracks, steep climbs, and sudden drops. Riders need advanced skills and excellent fitness levels. The trail also includes historical relics from gold rushes, adding a unique cultural dimension. Accommodation options along the trail range from basic huts to more comfortable lodges, allowing for multi-day adventures.
Heaphy Track, Nelson Tasman
This advanced-level trail in Kahurangi National Park is famed for its diverse landscapes. Spanning 78.4 kilometers, it takes riders through dense rainforests, alpine tussock lands, and along rugged coastlines. The trail presents a mix of technical challenges and physically demanding sections, suitable for experienced riders. Along the route, cyclists can enjoy views of native wildlife and the breathtaking landscapes of one of New Zealand’s most diverse national parks.
Welcome Rock Trails, Southland
Located in Southland’s high country, these trails offer a more accessible yet adventurous ride. The trail is built around a historic water race, providing a unique perspective on the region’s gold mining history. Intermediate in grade, the trail features easy gradients but still requires a good level of fitness. Riders can enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding mountains and stay in charming huts. The trail’s historical significance and natural beauty make it a unique biking experience.
Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua
Known as The Redwoods, this forest hosts an extensive network of trails suitable for all levels, including advanced riders. The terrain varies significantly across the network, from smooth flow trails to challenging technical sections. Riders can expect to navigate through dense forest areas, encountering various natural obstacles. The trails are well-maintained and offer a blend of adrenaline-pumping downhill rides and more leisurely scenic routes.
Mākara Peak Mountain Bike Park, Wellington
This park in Wellington is a paradise for mountain bikers, offering trails ranging from beginner to expert. The park’s highlight, the Deliverance trail, is known for its technical difficulty, featuring steep, rocky sections that challenge even skilled riders. Riders can expect a variety of terrain, including rooty trails and rocky descents. The park’s elevation provides stunning views of the surrounding area.
Rude Rock Trail
As a grade 4 trail, Rude Rock is designed for experienced riders. Located near Skippers Canyon, the trail is known for its fast, flowing nature and stunning views over the Shotover River and Coronet Peak. The trail is relatively short but offers a thrilling ride with natural berms and jumps. It’s a must-ride for those seeking an adrenaline rush in a breathtaking setting.
Heli-biking on the Pisa Range, Wanaka
This unique biking experience starts with a helicopter ride to the top of the Pisa Range. Suitable for intermediate to advanced riders, the trail offers a mix of cross-country and downhill riding. The descent provides spectacular views of the Wanaka region. Riders should be prepared for a variety of terrain, including rocky sections and fast descents.
Queen Charlotte Track
This scenic track offers a mix of technical riding and more leisurely sections, making it suitable for intermediate riders. The trail provides stunning coastal and forest views, with varying terrain that includes both smooth and challenging sections. The full track spans about 70 kilometers, offering a multi-day biking adventure with opportunities for wildlife sightings and enjoying the natural beauty of the Marlborough Sounds.
Great Lake Trail
Located near Lake Taupo, this trail offers a journey through a variety of landscapes including mountains, wetlands, and forests. Spanning over 70 km, it’s suitable for intermediate riders. The trail is known for its scenic beauty, offering stunning views of Lake Taupo and the surrounding national park. Riders can expect a mix of smooth, flowing sections and more challenging technical parts.
The Timber Trail, Taupō
This trail in the Pureora Forest Park offers a mix of easy to intermediate riding through ancient forests. Covering 85 kilometers, it features suspension bridges and historical timber-milling sites. The trail is well-suited for riders seeking a scenic and culturally rich experience. The trail’s gentle gradients make it accessible, but its length requires a good level of fitness. The lush forest setting provides a peaceful backdrop for a memorable ride.
Some other great mountain bike trails to check out around New Zealand…
Below are five more MTB trails or trail networks around NZ that are awesome fun, and worth a look!
Located in the heart of the Southern Alps, the Craigieburn Trails represent a true backcountry mountain biking experience. This trail network offers a variety of single-track trails that range from intermediate to advanced levels. Riders can expect a mix of technical riding with roots and rocks, combined with flowing sections through native beech forests. The trails provide stunning alpine scenery, including views of the Craigieburn Range. The most famous section, the Craigieburn Edge Track, is known for its technical challenge and breathtaking vistas. Suitable for skilled riders with a good level of fitness, the trails offer a remote and rugged biking experience that is uniquely New Zealand.
7 Mile Bike Park
Situated near Queenstown, 7 Mile Bike Park is a favorite among locals and visitors alike. This area is packed with a network of trails suitable for a range of skill levels, from beginner to advanced. The park features a combination of flowing trails and more technical tracks with jumps and berms. Its proximity to Queenstown and the stunning views of Lake Wakatipu and the Remarkables mountain range make it a popular choice. The park’s trails are well-maintained, offering a fun and accessible mountain biking experience for most riders.
Known for its winter ski slopes, Coronet Peak in Queenstown also offers exhilarating mountain biking trails during the summer. The trails here are best suited for intermediate to advanced riders, featuring steep descents, tight switchbacks, and rocky terrain. Riding these trails requires a good level of fitness and bike handling skills, especially to navigate the more challenging sections.
Te Iringa Trail
Located in the Kaimanawa Forest Park, the Te Iringa Trail is a challenging backcountry track that demands technical skills and excellent fitness. The trail is known for its natural obstacles, including roots, rocks, and steep sections. The ride is a true wilderness experience, taking you through remote native forest with stunning scenery. Due to its technical nature and remote location, the trail is recommended for experienced riders who are well-prepared for backcountry conditions.
Pan Pac Eskdale Mountain Bike Park
Nestled in the Hawke’s Bay region, this park is one of the North Island’s premier mountain biking destinations. It offers over 75km of trails that cater to all skill levels. The park features a mix of easy, flowing trails for beginners and more challenging technical trails for advanced riders. The park is known for its well-maintained tracks, set in a beautiful forest environment. Highlights include the flowing and jump-filled trails of the Mill Block area, which are a hit with those looking for an adrenaline rush.
Each of these trails offers a unique glimpse into New Zealand’s diverse mountain biking terrain, catering to a wide range of preferences and skill levels. From the alpine challenges of Coronet Peak to the accessible fun of 7 Mile Bike Park, these trails are excellent additions to any mountain biker’s New Zealand adventure.