Whether you’re exploring city streets, tackling a Great Ride or hitting the mountain bike trails, Autumn is a fantastic time of year get on your bike.
1. Whakarewarewa MTB trails, Rotorua
With versatile routes, varying topography, well-draining volcanic soils and fantastic scenery, the Whakarewarewa Forest is New Zealand’s premier MTB destination. Riders come from around the world to take on the 180 kilometres of evolving trails that wind through the forest in one of our oldest mountain biking networks. The trails cater for all levels of fitness and ability, ranging from the family-friendly kids' loop and grade two beginner trails, through to challenging tracks designed for experts only.
2. Otago Central Rail Trail
The Otago Central Rail Trail is New Zealand’s original ‘Great Ride’ cycle trail. Winding for 152 kilometres from Clyde to Middlemarch through the stunning Central Otago landscape, the Central Rail Trail is graded as easiest, which means it’s achievable for anyone who can ride a bike. Explore the relics and history of abandoned gold mining villages; ride across viaducts, through tunnels and over bridges. Choose to tackle the whole route over a few days or simply get a taste of it on a day ride.
3. Twin Coast Cycle Trail, Northland
The 87-kilometre Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail in Northland links the coastal towns of Hōreke in the Hokianga and Ōpua in the Bay of Islands. Divided into four sections and ridable in either direction, Pou Herenga Tai features diverse landscapes and stunning scenery. Just outside the central point of the trail, Kaikohe, you’ll find Ngāwhā Springs, rustic natural hot pools perfect for soaking away the aches of the day.
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The Pou Herenga Tai / Twin Coast Cycle Trail boasts some of New Zealand’s longest sections of boardwalk – what a great way to explore a mangrove swamp! Linking the pretty Bay of Islands with enchanting Hokianga Harbour, the trail can be ridden from east to west, west to east, or if you’re not keen on uphills, from the centre freewheeling down to either coast. However you slice and dice it, you’re guaranteed a good time on this 84km Great Ride steeped in Māori and pioneering European history. It even shares some of its route with a vintage railway! 📷: @ruthlawtonphotography / @pouherengatai_cycletrail.
4. Rameka Track, Nelson
Mountain bikes are forbidden in the Abel Tasman National Park – all except for one section, the Rameka Track from Tākaka Hill down into the Rameka Gorge. The Rameka Track is a Grade 3+ trail, meaning it’s better suited to experienced riders. The first section is a gnarly, snaking trail through beech forest, with plenty of tree roots, boulders and potholes to keep you concentrating. Emerging onto the tops, you’ll get a panoramic view of Golden Bay and the misty peaks of Kahurangi National Park to the west.
5. Auckland City cycling
Thanks to some passionate advocates, Auckland City is becoming increasingly pleasurable for pedalling. Begin at the waterfront beneath the Auckland Harbour Bridge before riding the Westhaven Promenade, a freshly minted series of boardwalks built for pedestrians and cyclists. At several points, the promenade extends over the water, with public art dotted about and at night it’s beautifully lit. Then head to the Lightpath – Te Ara i Whiti. This wonderful new curve of cycling splendour may have faded a tad from its original fluorescent glory, but it’s still a delight to ride until it spits you out near Upper Queen Street.
6. Deans Bank, Wānaka
Almost from its inception this 12-kilometre loop track, taking in some of Wānaka’s best scenery has become one of the area's greatest and most popular attractions, reaffirming the town’s status as one of the top MTB destinations in the country. From kids to seniors, thousands of riders have been enjoying this purpose-built trail day and night (the latter with powerful bike lights), but because the track is only ridden one-way it never feels crowded.
7. Wellington waterfront
The Wellington waterfront is best appreciated on two wheels. Better still, on two wheels with an electric boost. Switched on Bikes provides both, with guided tours and e-bike hires for novices and lazy cyclists alike. Cruise around the shared waterfront from Queens Wharf, take in the scenery of Oriental and Evans Bays and tackle any pesky hills with minimal effort. Even with a notorious Wellington headwind, you can explore the city without breaking a sweat.
8. Te Ara a Waiau Cycleway, Franz Josef
Ride through the native bush from Franz Josef township on the Te Ara a Waiau walkway and cycleway. Pick up the track outside the Westland Tai Poutini National Park Visitor Centre, then cross the road and ride under the Waiho River bridge, before approaching the Rātā Grove and heading into the heart of the forest. If you want to venture further, you’ll need to do it on foot, leaving your ride at the bike rack at the end of Te Ara a Waiau – there is no cycle access on any other tracks in the area.
9. The Timber Trail, Ruapehu
This wonderful winding 85-kilometre ride follows what remains of an old tramway trail used by sawmillers up until 1958 to haul rimu logs out of the bush by the thousand. Start at Pureroa, or, if you’re pressed for time, the mid-point at Piropiro. The trail is pretty easy going, especially the family-friendly second stretch from Piropiro, and there are a staggering (and slightly swaying) 35 exciting bridges to cross – the longest a stunning 141m in length and 55m high. Take a day or two days for the ride of a lifetime.
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This great shot by @NewZealandMountanBiking really makes it looks like they’re riding in mid-air. Erm, and with some of the Timber Trail’s suspension bridges at over 100m long and over 50m high, it certainly feels like it! Why not come and experience it for yourself? NZMTB can make it easy for you on one of their great North Island MTB Tours. . . . . . #nzcycletrail #ngahaerenga #timbertrailnz #docgovtnz #pureora #pureoraforestpark #purenewzealand #nzmustdo #newzealand #nz #nature #realmiddleearth #mtb #mountainbike #mountainbiking #cycling #bikestagram #cyclinglife #fromwhereiride #mtblife #ig_newzealand #kiwi_photos #nzbybike #destinationnz #gottalovenz #singletrack #fromwhereweride
10. Hauraki Rail Trail, Coromandel
One of the easiest Great Rides, the Hauraki Rail Trail is a gentle cycle through New Zealand’s gold mining history. The 123-kilometre, five-section track follows historic railway lines and runs from Thames or Kaiaua, via Paeroa to Waihī. But most scenic section takes you through the stunning Karangahake Gorge. Lush native bush clads steep hills running up from the Ōhinemuri river, but thanks to the work of industrious gold miners, today’s cycle trails and walkways are flat and easy.