Are you ready to go on a mountain biking tour of New Zealand? Good, because I’m ready to share with you my favourite NZ Mountain Bike trails. You’ll learn more about the best mountain bike trails that you really should try out. All trails are graded according to difficulty and how easy or hard it is to reach them.
10 Best Mountain Bike Trails NZ
1. Old Ghost Road
My first pick in terms of thrilling mountain biking trails is the so-called Old Ghost Road. Stretching along New Zealand’s West Coast, the Old Ghost road is quite an interesting experience – rugged terrain, several days of cycling through the mountains, abandoned gold mines. Difficulty-wise, the Old Ghost Road is considered one of the longest and hardest in New Zealand at 85km.
To give an idea of how you can get there, the Old Ghost Road can be accessed by car after a 5 and a half hour ride from Christchurch or 45 minutes from the town of Westport if you’re really in a hurry. There’s a third option – by taking the plane from Wellington to Westport. Gear up guys, because this is going to be very difficult.
2. Heaphy Mountain
Because I simply cannot resist a challenging bike ride, I present you the Heaphy Mountain trail, an exquisite ride with ever-changing scenery. The multi-day mountain biking trip will take you across the Kahurangi National Park, one of New Zealand’s most beautiful conservation sites. If you’re lucky enough, you can even spend the night in one of those huts by the sea. The Heaphy Mountain trail is accessible by car only. If you want to get there, you will need to take a 3-hour car ride from Nelson.
3. 42 Traverse
Located near Lake Taupo in the North Island, the 42 Traverse encompasses 46 km of uphill and downhill rides. Labeled as an intermediate mountain biking track, the 42 Traverse will definitely put those endurance skills to the test.
The whole track takes about one day to complete and will take you to the lush Tongariro Forest Conservation Zone. 42 Traverse starts from the Kapoors Road Car parks (elevation 910 meters) and ends at Owhango (elevation 395m), near the road to Taumarunui.
4. Queen Charlotte Track
Considered one of longest mountain bike trails in New Zealand (approximately 70 km). Stretching from Meretoto to Anakiwa, Queen Charlotte varies in difficulty level. Most of the obstacles consist of narrow tracks and steep slopes. However, the part dedicated to more experienced mountain bikers, namely the area between the Kenepuru Saddle and Portage, involves jumping over obstacles and riding very close to the ledge.
The Queen Charlotte track is divided in three parts – the road from Meretoto to Camp Bay (26.5 km, traversable in about five hours), from Camp Bay to the Torea Saddle (about 23 km or four hours on the bike) and from Torea Saddle to Anakiwa (20.5 km or a four-hour ride).
5. Timber Trail
An amazing mountain bike ride that takes you across eight bridges and forests as far as the eyes can see. The track starts from the Northern part of the island (Pureora) and takes you as far as Ongarue, meaning that you’ll need to ride for approximately 85 km. Do take some warm clothing with you, as the weather might get a little chilly. That’s to be expected when one rides approximately 900 meters above sea level.
The Timber Trail, which takes after the old lumber tramrails, is divided into three segments: from Pureora to the First Shelter (8.5 km), from the First Shelter to Piropiro (31.5 km), and from Piropiro to Ongarue (47 km).
6. Great Lake Trail
The Great Lake Trail will take you through the Tongariro National Park and around Lake Taupo, New Zealand’s largest lake. Spanning over 70 km, the trail will definitely fascinate you with its wild, untamed aspect, ranging from mountains to wetlands and tussock land. The Great Lake Trail starts from Waihaha Bridge and ends in Whakaipo Bay.
7. Rude Rock Trail
Built in 2013, this awesome MTB trail is for pros only. Labeled as a grade 4, the Rude Rock trail will take you down the Skippers Canyon and around Lake Wakatipu. Compared to other tracks in terms of time and length, the Rude Rock Trail is somewhat disappointing (about 45 minutes to 1.5 hours or 7 km). However, trust me when I say that this will probably be the most thrilling ride of your life.
8. Whakarewarewa Forest
Also called The Redwoods, this mountain biking track has everything a nature lover and bike rider needs – lush forests, challenging trail, and of course, tons of obstacles. Biking through The Redwoods can be easy or difficult depending on how willing you are to ride. Don’t forget that the park spans over 160 km, which means that getting to the end will surely put you to the test.
9. Lake Magamahoe Bike Trail
The Lake Mangamahoe MTB trails are perhaps the best that New Plymouth has to offer in terms of challenging dirt tracks. With a total distance of 42 km, you will spend half of that climbing. The trail begins near the Plantation Road, close to Mangamahoe Lake. From there, you will have to ride about one day to reach the end of the track. Good luck on that trail, because you are going to need it.
10. Welcome Rock Trail
The last track on my list is the Welcome Rock Trail which will take you across the old gold-mining circuit in the southern part of the island. Labeled as an intermediate biking course, the Welcome Rock Trail spans approximately 27 km and is accessible by car from Queenstown.
There you have it, folks! Only the best New Zealand has to offer when it comes to extreme mountain bike trails. Gear up, bring your best buddy or your significant other along and have the best time of your life. Don’t worry too much about which to pick because there are plenty of tracks to choose from.
Author: Oliver Devon is an amateur rider on the gravel and a seasoned veteran when it comes to the world of riding. Sitting on the edge of his seat, he sifts through tonnes of news daily, everything is stored into his head and everything above that gets posted on BikeGearExpert, the place that he calls home.