Mountain biking is fast becoming the most exhilarating and interesting way to experience the beauty of New Zealand and its majestic scenery. There is nothing quite like exploring this country’s rugged and diverse landscape for the first time on a bike, choosing your own path through the myriad of tracks, immersing yourself in the sense of freedom where the mountains are your playground.

With a variety of terrain for all riding levels, whether an adrenaline junkie in search of a new challenge or lover of the open outdoors, New Zealand has something to offer everyone. With countless trails laying claim to New Zealand’s leading mountain bike destination, here are just a handful of the most iconic.

1.      Woodhill Mountain Bike Park in Auckland

 

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The trail at Woodhill Forest is a purpose built and boasts beautiful scenery backdrop worthy of inclusion in the Narnia films. With 50 mountain bike trails and 150km of tracks, Auckland’s most popular riding venue welcomes riders of every ability.

They have a bike hire facility with trained staff, a shop, a café, a disc golf course (which is pretty novel) and are open all year round!

Woodhill Mountain Bike Park is a 50 minute drive from Auckland’s CBD.

2.      Whakarewarewa in Rotorua

 

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The Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest has one of the oldest mountain bike trails in the country.

With a network of 130km of trails catering for beginners and families to extreme enthusiasts, the biking mecca of Whakarewarewa in Rotorua is an inspired choice.

An hour, a day or an entire weekend is easily filled with endless captivating sights at every turn, with its hot springs, breath-taking lakes and the impressive Mt. Tarawera, New Zealand’s sleeping giant and Maori sacred site. And that’s without even mentioning the mighty Redwoods themselves!

The Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest is a 10 minute drive from the centre of the city.

3.      Kaimanawas in Taupo

 

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Lake Taupo is a fantastic place for mountain biking, offering numerous bush and mountain trails to suit all ranges of fitness and experience as well as catering for every budget.

One of the more unique (and spectacular) mountain bike experiences out of the options in Taupo is Heli-biking down the Kaimanawas.

In this adventure, you’ll be flown by helicopter to a beautifully remote location inside Kaimanawa National Park where the untouched wilderness will most likely redefine how you see mountain biking.

From there it’s a 10km track that descends 2,500 ft down a purpose-built trail at your own pace (fast for most) whilst taking in the incredible views.

Kaimanawa Heli-biking is based in RD 3 Poronui in Taupo

4.      Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park in Wellington

 

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The nation’s capital is another city in New Zealand with a good number of mountain bike trails to choose from and one of the best is the Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park. With a 40km network of trails, this is a park dedicated solely to mountain biking.

Opened in 1998, the bike park has been attracting local and international visitors for years with some of the country’s most famous trails like Koru and Missing Link.

From the peak of the mountain, there are a number of trails going down from Grade 3 – 6 with something for everyone to enjoy.

The Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park’s entrance is at 116/122 South Karori Road, just 15 minutes drive from the city.

5.      Old Ghost Road in Westport

 

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The Old Ghost Road trail in Westport in the South Island is one of the great mountain bike trails, not only in New Zealand but in the world.

It is an 85km single track trail through valleys, mountains and river gorges. It used to be an old miners’ road that was forgotten, then repurposed for mountain biking and tramping.

It still has the mystic and feel of the time when it was used, in part because there are four ghost towns along the route. The natural terrain itself is also spectacular and mythic.

The Old Ghost Road trail however, is not one that is suitable for all as it is a Grade 4 (advanced) trail that will require decent ability to navigate. It can take skilled riders between 2 – 4 days to complete as well so you’ll need to stay in the huts if you want to finish the whole trail.

You can make bookings for these, but there are a limited available on a first come first serve basis.

The suggested starting point is Lyell Historic Reserve an hour’s drive from Westport.

6.      Rude Rock Track in Queenstown

 

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In the tourist wonderland that is Queenstown, you’ll find the Rude Rock Track, a fantastic regional experience that is more alpine biking than mountain biking.

It’s a relatively new addition to the mountain biking scene in New Zealand having opened in 2013 but has quickly become one of the most popular given its location and stunning views of Queenstown and Lake Wakatipu.

Like the Old Ghost Road, it is a Grade 4 so does require some ability as it does get steep in sections, but if you are a bit more experienced then this will be right down your alley.

Unlike the Old Ghost Road, this one is only a 7km trail, so you won’t have to give up much more than an hour or so to complete it.

Rude Rock is, by the way, an actual description of a feature you’ll see on the trail itself so don’t forget your imagination and keep an eye out!

The Rude Rock Track is on the Coronet Peak Access Road.

7.      Craigieburn Forest Park in Christchurch

 

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Craigieburn is known as a great little ski area in the winter, but it also a place where you can enjoy some decent mountain biking on their dual purpose tracks.

There are seven tracks in total at the forest park, the longest of which is the advanced Craigieburn Valley Loop which is 15km and takes between 2 – 4 hours.

The dramatic views of the Southern Alps are nothing short of awe-inspiring and the beech forest surrounds and tussock covered hills are equally magnificent.

It’s a great challenge for intermediate riders and not quite as busy as some of the others on the list which will please enthusiasts. There’s also a nice little picnic area to enjoy so make sure you don’t forget to pack one along with all your gear!

The Craigieburn Forest Park is about a 90 minute drive from Christchurch.

Conclusion

Whatever bike trail you choose to explore in New Zealand, the scenery you will discover will remain unrivalled as some of the best kept secrets of this awe-inspiring country. Regardless of riding ability and age, an energising and unforgettable experience is guaranteed.