New Zealand Cycling and Mountain Biking
New Zealand is a mecca for biking and cycling enthusiasts, whether you’re into a leisurely bike ride to check out the scenery, extreme mountain biking, or road cycling.
There are many bike and cycle tracks and trails all over the country, in some of New Zealand’s most beautiful locations, so it’s an amazing way to take in the landscapes and scenery which New Zealand offers.
There are options available for all types of biking adventures – from self-guided trails, organised cycle tours, extreme mountain biking adventures, and winery cycling tours, to historic scenic bike tracks. Many of the larger cycle trails can be broken up into sections so you do not have ride the full length of the bike track.
Some of the best and most popular New Zealand cycle tracks and mountain biking areas include the following:
The Central Otago Rail Trail
This bike trail is located in Central Otago and is built on the foundations of an old railway between Clyde and Middlemarch. It is commonly known as “New Zealand’s original great ride” The Otago Rail Trail is 150km long, and typically takes 3-5 days. There are organised cycle tours you can join, or you can plan the trip yourself, booking your own accommodation on the way.
St James Cycle Trail
This cycle trail is located near Hanmer Springs and is 64km long. You can hire bikes and gear in Hanmer Springs, join an organised trip with a shuttle, or plan your own trip. The bike trail will take 1-2 days depending on your fitness levels and mountain biking experience.
This track is one of New Zealand’s Great Walks, and is now also a Great Ride (on trial for 3 years). The Heaphy Track is the only multi-day bike ride in a National Park in New Zealand, and is 80km long. Huts are available along the way but must be booked. Other mountain bike trails are also accessible from both ends of the track.
Alps to Ocean Cycle Trail
This cycle trail is still under construction but will be a winner once completed. Located in the Mackenzie and North Otago region, once completed it will be 312km long, beginning at Aoraki Mt Cook National Park and ending at the Pacific Ocean by Oamaru. The cycle trail has 8 logical sections, and is expected to be completed at the end of 2012. There are some sections which are already open.
Old Ghost Road Trail
Located on the West Coast, this bike trail is currently under construction, but sections of it have been completed and are open. It will 80km long when fully completed and will pass by ghost towns and old gold mining sites.
Queen Charlotte Track
This dual purpose walking-biking track is located in Queen Charlotte Sound at the top of the South Island, and is renowned for its amazing scenery. It is 71km long and has been purposely built to cater to both walkers and bikers. It is the longest section of continuous single track in New Zealand, and is suitable for both beginner riders and experienced mountain bikers. One of the sections is closed in summer for bikers, but is open the rest of the year.
Old Coach Rd
Located in Ohakune this cycle trail is an easy mountain bike track that links a number of interesting pieces of New Zealand’s rail heritage in a journey through part of Tongariro National Park.
Located in National Park, Ruapehu this classic mountain ride follows an old logging road and is 46km long. The bike trail is easily completed as a day trip from one of the nearby towns, including Taupo, Ohakune, National Park or Raetihi.
Queenstown offers a multitude of biking options, from beginners to advanced. One of the more well-known tracks is the Skyline Gondola trail. And there is a large selection of other great rides, classic road rides, downhill tracks, back country adventures and many mountain bike trails. Visit Queenstown’s website for more information on Queenstown biking.
Redwoods Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua
This New Zealand cycle trail is one of the oldest mountain bike networks in the country and offers of a variety of riding surfaces, landscapes and scenery. The area caters for all levels and abilities, from beginner riders and families through to cycling experts. Rotorua has been the location for a large range of premier mountain biking events.
You can find more information on some of these bike trails on the Department of Conservation’s website.