MOUNTAIN BIKE TRAILS
New Zealand, an area half the size of California and only slightly bigger than the UK provides world class and IMBA awarded trail networks with Rotorua, Taupo, Nelson, Old Ghost Road, and Queenstown all only a few hours from each other.
From the flowing singletrack through the forests of Rotorua to the desert like and dusty adrenaline filled trails of Queenstown.
Of course, there's so much more to ride - with over 2000 mountain biking trails spread across the country there's amazing riding everywhere you go, some easy to find on your own, some you'll need some local knowledge.
As an introduction to New Zealand mountain biking, here are a few of the best mountain bike trails.
The sheer quality of mountain biking trails in Rotorua New Zealand has earned it a reputation from mountain bike enthusiasts throughout the world as a premier destination. Rotorua had its first claim to fame as the host of the 2006 Mountain Bike World Championships. Since then the popularity has exploded in the Rotorua MTB scene, with visits from Crankworx & the Enduro World Series in 2015, 2016 & 2017. However, it’s the Redwood forest that attracts those who visit Rotorua to ride.
With over 150 mountain bike trails ranging from flowing handmade singletrack to natural technical trails and everything in-between, there is something to put a grin on anyone’s face. From beginner to expert, everyone is catered for - whilst mountain biking in the forest you'll often see a real mix of people, from families with young kids, through weekend enthusiasts to professionals training. And with such an extensive trail network you'll always be able to find somewhere to get away from the crowds.
Your own slice of singletrack heaven - what could be better? It’s got a shuttle so you can save your energy for the grin-inducing descents lap after lap! Here are 10 of the best mountain biking trails in Rotorua.
Skyline Mountain Bike Parks
For those less keen to pedal, the latest addition to Rotorua's mountain biking trails is the Skyline Mountain Bike Park with 9 lift accessed trails ranging from intermediate to expert. A totally different experience from the Redwoods forest - the trails are all manmade, featuring faster flowing tracks with jumps and berms providing some more advanced terrain to ride on. The newest Rotorua MTB addition also claims fame as the world’s first year-round gondola accessed bike park, and like the Redwoods is built on fast draining volcanic dirt that seems to increase in grip as it gets wetter.
Located an hour south are the Taupo mountain biking trails, accredited as a Silver Level Ride Centre by IMBA in 2012. The Taupo MTB trails provide more than 200km of riding, a mix of flowing singletrack following the shoreline of a crystal clear lake, and a growing network set out in a geothermal valley.
The exceptional Great Lake Trail features 80km of the most flowing singletrack you’ll ever ride, dipping and rolling between trees and large boulders create a rollercoaster-like effect. Don’t be surprised at the end of the day to think your GPS is broken, the flowing nature of the trails will push you to ride harder and faster than you’d imagine. And with a low population density in this part of the world, there is a huge amount of singletrack just outside of town, featuring some excellent multi-day, backcountry, and heli biking trips.
Four Forty Park
Auckland's premier MTB spot is a short drive out of the city - perfect for either a day trip or as a warm up/warm down to a New Zealand mountain bike tour. Featuring a shuttle service to whisk riders up the hill and an ever-growing number of ways to come back down, Four Forty is always a crowd pleaser. Designed for intermediate riders and above, 440's drawcard is that it provides a shuttled singletrack rideable on a 150mm travel bike, see more "enduro" styled trails rather than downhill.
Old Ghost Road
Fast becoming a “must do” for all mountain bikers that visit New Zealand, the Old Ghost Road is a classic bit of New Zealand mountain biking. An old gold prospectors trail dating back over a hundred years, this flowing 85km of singletrack has been painstakingly restored with over a million volunteer man hours.
The Old Ghost Road is a great opportunity to try bike packing in a stunning environment, with a number of huts located along the trail - pack your food, sleeping bag, and spare undies and prepare to be blown away. The singletrack flows through stunning landscapes; the native rainforests, tussock covered alpine, rocky scree slopes, and bridged gorges will have you in mountain bike trail ecstasy and relentlessly reaching for the camera.
The Queenstown MTB scene can take a large amount of credit for putting New Zealand on the world map initially. With an active trail group constantly creating new trails and some perfect topology, it’s no wonder people flock to enjoy mountain biking in Queenstown. Featuring around 100 dedicated mountain biking trails, you could spend a week happily riding new trails every day!
Home to the original Skyline mountain bike park, Queenstown can give you the gravity thrill too - 30 gondola accessed MTB trails with just under 500m vertical descent each lap. Popular with beginners and pros, this is a great way to complete your New Zealand MTB tour and get that adrenaline flowing one last time!
The jewel in the crown though must be the Rude Rock trail. Just over 3kms of mountain bike trail perfection carved into a mountainside, the trail flows from start to end over big rollers, blind crests, tabletop jumps, and big berms. Without a tree root in sight, the never-ending ribbon of dirt pushes riders to go faster and faster, and with the opportunity to ride lap after lap with a shuttle vehicle doing the climbing for you, it's no wonder this is always a favourite for riders.
As well as gravity orientated mountain biking, Queenstown also provides some excellent cross country and trail riding for those wishing to pedal. The stunning backcountry trails and xc orientated trails take you out of the vibrant town and into the scenic surroundings and valleys where many gold prospectors have tried their luck over the years. A great way to explore and discover the beauty and serenity of the hills surrounding Queenstown & Wanaka.
New Zealand Mountain Biking Trails - South Island
Old Ghost Road
New Zealand's newest bike park, Christchurch Adventure Park provides some much-needed gravity riding to the area. In addition to the labyrinth of cross country trails nestled in the surrounding hills, the mountain bike park is helping to build Christchurch's reputation as a mountain biking destination city all of its own. Comprising a ski gondola to ferry mountain bikers up the mountain, and an ever-increasing number of ways to return to the bottom, technical singletrack, jump lines, endless corners, it really does provide another amazing mountain biking resource in New Zealand's South Island.