Timber Trail bridge. © Visit Ruapehu

Seven sweet cycling spots for summer

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Whether you’re tackling a Great Ride, exploring city streets or hitting some of New Zealand's best mountain bike trails, summer is the ideal time of year get on your bike.

1. Whakarewarewa MTB trails, Rotorua

With more than 180 kilometres of evolving trails, varying topography and fantastic scenery, the Whakarewarewa Forest is New Zealand’s premier MTB destination. The park has also recently been expanded to incorporate the brand new Te Pūtake o Tawa bike hub, off Tarawera road, providing new access points to the forest. With trails catering for all levels of fitness and ability, ranging from the family-friendly kids' loop through to challenging tracks designed for experts only, it’s easy to see why riders come from around the world to take on one of our oldest mountain biking networks.

2. Te Ara a Waiau Cycleway, Franz Josef

Ride through native bush from Franz Josef township on the Te Ara a Waiau walkway and cycleway. You 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. But 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, as there is no cycle access on any other tracks in the area.

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. And, just outside the central point of the trail, Kaikohe, you’ll find the famous Ngāwhā Springs, rustic natural hot pools perfect for soaking away the aches of the day.

4. Deans Bank, Wānaka

Taking in some of Wānaka’s best scenery, this 12-kilometre loop track is one of the area's greatest and most popular attractions, reaffirming the town’s status as one of the top MTB destinations in the South Island. 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.

5. 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.

6. 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.

7. Lake Dunstan Trail, Otago

With wide open landscapes, gold-mining heritage and winding rivers, Central Otago is a great spot for cycling. Try something new by riding a section of the soon-to-be-completed Lake Dunstan Trail. Running between Clyde and Cromwell, the trail passes the Clyde Dam, Lake Dunstan and the famous pinot noir district of Bannockburn. Sections of the trail around Pisa Moorings and the Cromwell Heritage Precinct are already open to ride, with an official trail opening planned for later this year.  

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