MTB Central North Island
Being on your bike for some is one of life’s true pleasures! The regions of the central North Island have a huge array of opportunities to ‘get cranked’ from the occasional weekend warrior to the MTB professional, there are rides for all ages and stages. Here’s some suggestions for Waikato, Rotorua, Taupō, and Ruapehu, and many links to more information so you can hit the trails, get intrepid and ‘get out more’!
Stretching from Kaiaua on the Coromandel Peninsula to the Waikato towns of Te Aroha and Matamata, the Hauraki Rail Trail takes in historic sites and stunning scenery. One of New Zealand’s easiest Great Rides, this trail follows historic railway lines and combines beautiful scenery with a glimpse into the area’s rich gold mining past.
Soak option: Te Aroha Mineral Spas, in Te Aroha Domain, are the perfect place to relax if you’re winding down from cycling the Hauraki Rail Trail.
The Waikato River Trails are in the heart of the South Waikato and extend from Atiamuri Village in the south to the southern end of Lake Karapiro in the north. The trail is broken into 5 sections, each section named after the lake that the trail is connected to. For those doing the whole trail, most ride south to north or down streamdownstream. While this does not mean downhill there’s fun for all levels. For those riding individual sections riding either way is fine.
Cycle Hire and guides: www.lakedistrictadventures.co.nz
Get out more and ride The Timber Trail – this follows historic tramways through the ancient native forest of the Pureora Forest Park, offering riders a backcountry adventure through an area abundant in birdlife. These purpose-built tracks flow through virgin, regenerating native forest and exotic plantation forest. Featuring 35 bridges including the 141m long Maramataha suspension bridge, you can also Navigate the engineering marvel that is the Ongarue Spiral and be captivated by the historic relics left by the hardy timber loggers of times past. A one day or two-day ride with transfers and accommodation options available.
Places to stay: Timber Trail Lodge
Rotorua is an absolute haven for mountain bikers of all levels, with over 180km of trails from the family friendly right up to world-class downhill trails. Rack up the bikes and all your cycling dreams can be fulfilled – ride, eat sleep and repeat.
Guided tours and skills clinics – Looking to gain more confidence to tackle roots and drops, or smooth out your cornering for some serious speed, why not take the opportunity to brush up on your skills with a lesson or clinic? A great way to get your bearings in Whaka forest is to go on a guided tour and let the locals show you their favourite spots and find the perfect trail to put a smile on your dial.
Intermediate to advanced riders will love the gondola assisted Skyline Rotorua Mountain Bike Park. Home to Crankworx World Tour, these trails are truly world-class, with the option for some serious good flow and no hills to climb!
Get out of town to Rainbow Mountain & Te Ara Ahi 25km South East of the CBD is Rainbow Mountain. Grade 3 trails weave around the base of the mountain, or if you’re up for a tough climb, the summit awaits! It’s hard graft getting up the shared walking and biking climbing trail, but you’ll be rewarded with stunning views and an epic descent through some technical sections before sweet flowing single-track to the base. Rainbow Mountain forms part of Te Ara Ahi, part of the National Cycle Trail. Those looking for a more mellow experience will appreciate the shuttle service from Thermal Land Shuttle with return transport from Waimangu Volcanic Valley or Waikite Valley Thermal Pools.
Make your way south to Kinloch to begin your epic adventure. Ride the Waihaha section of the Great Lake Trails with FourB. Discover towering volcanic rock cliffs, spectacular views and a waterfall hidden deep in the Waihaha Valley. The trail has been built with flowing corners, and fun downhills, and some short switchback climbs to keep you honest. Finish your ride at the breath-taking Kotukutuku Beach for a well-earned rest on the lakefront, before your transfer with Bay2Bay Water Taxi back to Kinloch.
After your day on the trails head back to town for a well-deserved soak at Wairakei Terraces & Thermal Health Spa Taupō. Bathe in mineral & silica enriched thermal pools located below the Wairakei silica terraces and waterfall, providing the perfect setting for complete rest and relaxation.
End your day with drinks or dinner at Vine Eatery & Bar. It’s the perfect setting to enjoy a fine wine or craft beer and indulge in their tasty Mediterranean inspired menu.
Craters Mountain Bike Park – discover more than 50km of trails at this purpose-built mountain bike park, located a short ride (or even shorter drive!) from Taupō town. Trails range from entry level to technical cross-country and grade 5 downhill trails. You will need to purchase a visitor pass from Bike Taupō.
Huka Trails – ride a network of trails that wind along the Waikato River, connecting Taupō town with Huka Falls, Aratiatia Dam, Wairakei Tourist Park and Craters Mountain Bike Park. Ride as little or as much as you like, up to 80km. Most sections of the Huka Trails are grade 1 – 2 easy, whilst parts are grade 3 intermediate. At the end of the Huka Trail you will discover Otumuheke Stream where you can soak under a hot water waterfall or in the natural rock pools whilst taking in the stunning views of the deep green, crystal-clear waters of the mighty Waikato River, New Zealand’s longest river.
KEFI Cafe at the Hub is the perfect place to fuel up in-between bike rides. Right across from the Craters Mountain Bike Park, you won’t miss this spot as there is a giant sikorsky helicopter on the grounds.
Known as one of the best adventure mountain bike rides in the North Island, the 42 Traverse is a 46km multi-use track that travels through the Tongariro Forest Conservation Area starting at SH47 and emerging at the small town of Owhango. The Grade 3 challenging trail will take riders 3-7 hours to ride, with a number of sections to test your fitness and skill level.
This fantastic historic family friendly track forms the first stage of the Mountains to Sea cycle trail. The trail was originally built in the early 1900s to move passengers between the two rail heads of the main trunk line by horse drawn carriage. Today it is a gently undulating 15km one way track taking in native bush, farmland, historic rail bridges and tunnels. Grab a shuttle to the start at Horopito and enjoy the mainly downhill journey back to Ohakune.
Bridge to Nowhere – Ruapehu. This advanced ride begins on the Mangapurua Track southwest of Raetihi [get dropped off by a shuttle] then heads uphill to the trig. From there its mainly downhill or flat through to the Bridge to Nowhere and on to the Mangapurua Landing where you will be picked up by a prearranged jetboat, taken to Pipiriki where you will be met by your shuttle operator.