New Zealand has some of the best mountain biking in the world. Everything from wonderful multi-day trails to severe downhill tracks. But what people overseas don't know is there is a (friendly) battle going on to determine which region in New Zealand can claim the "Capital of New Zealand Biking" title.
Many regions are developing new trails faster than trail map makers can update their maps as the New Zealand Cycle Trail spreads across the country. It seems like every week new areas and bike tracks are accessible or previously private property is opened up to riders.
It is certainly not our place to cast the deciding vote. But getting on a mountain bike and exploring is a big part of the Flying Kiwi experience, so we know what each NZ region has to offer mountain bikers.
Here is our list of some of our favourite rides in all the contenders for the "Capital" title. Read on for a taste of the sort of experiences New Zealand mountain biking can offer you.
Rotorua is fast becoming recognised as one of New Zealand’s, and in fact the worlds, ‘go to’ mountain bike destinations. Made famous by the Crankworx World Tour, and ever popular community based, Rotorua Bike festival, you are sure to find a trail you will love.
In our visit to the area you can take advantage of the stunning Hauraki Rail trail, a 17km ride with stunning scenery as far as the eye can see, finishing up with an exiting ride through an old unused railway tunnel, before resting for lunch in the picturesque Karangahake Gorge.
With a sweet taste of what the area has to offer, the cycling opportunities in Rotorua only get better! A short ride out of the city will get you to Whakarewarewa Forest, a world class mountain biking area, with a diverse and unique trail network for riders of all abilities.
For the braver or more adventurous rider, why not rent a bike and hit some laps at the Skyline Gondola downhill bike park? This is serious terrain for the experts, but who doesn’t love Gondola accessed Shuttles? Maybe you will be the next one we see on the Crankworx podium!
What could be better than jumping on your bike to experience Great Lake Taupo! With 200km+ of trails in the area, most of which are built on free draining soils, Taupo offers an exceptional network of trails that are open and dry, all year round!
The Hauraki falls trail is just one of the single-track treats to be found in the area and with little effort required you will find yourself out and about in a biking paradise. With rides ranging from a couple of hours to a couple of days, there is something for everyone here.
Mountain Biking in Nelson has taken a giant leap in recent years and has become another one of those bike destinations that the rest of the country are talking about. Being the sunniest recorded place in the whole of New Zealand, there is no excuse to not get out there and experience what is on offer.
With multiple bike parks to explore, there is something for the whole family to shred. Top picks would be the Kaiteriteri bike park, an intermediate/advanced trail network with some classic single-track biking, plus some major jump lines for the experienced rider. The views from the top of the park out over Golden Bay are breathtaking so remember to stop for the obligatory action cam selfie. If you have time, why not have a crack at the famous Remeka track, running from Takaka Hill down into Golden Bay, this is one hot ride, only problem is you will have to find time to do it twice as the old adage of ‘once is never enough’ really rings true for this one.
The Flying Kiwi base is located in Nelson so if you’re riding here, chances are you are going to pass one of our team out there on the trail, getting amongst it!
Queenstown has long been recognised as a mecca for all things exciting and extreme, and it hasn’t taken long for the mountain biking epidemic to sweep through the area, once again putting Queenstown on the international map!
The sheer number of visitors to the area has led to an inherent need for continual trail development. Both the local council and the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club invest large amounts of time and money into accommodating riders of all abilities and active club members in the area are at all-time high. As a result, you could probably spend the next twelve months in Queenstown and never ride the same trail twice. Epic single track, backcountry trails, road rides and Jump parks, the options are endless, it is widely believed that there are now more bikes in Queenstown in summer, than there are skiers in winter.
Wellington was built for mountain biking! Bush-clad hills and over 350km of trails, all within the city limits, should see Wellington atop anyone’s mountain bike destination list. Easy access to trails from grade 2 to grade 5, with jaw dropping views over the city, make this a very special place to ride. There are not many places in the world where you will find yourself totally immersed in trail heaven, amongst native flora and fauna, with the capital city in plain view below you
No cycle trip to Wellington would be complete without visiting Makara Mountain Bike Park. Since 1998, volunteers have dug, shifted and compacted soil, chipped out rock, cut back branches, built retaining walls and small bridges and dug drainage channels to create over 40kms of track for you to enjoy. The area has also seen a drive to reintroduce native trees and eradicate destructive pests. This is one of those places you will always want to return to ride.