Unlike some countries, New Zealand offers visitors exciting outdoor activities all year round. In summer our long coastlines provide seaside rest and recreation in the sun and sand. In winter we head to the hills for snow sports and mountain biking.
Let’s look at some of the must-visit mountain biking destinations in New Zealand’s North Island and Kiwi Holiday Parks and Accommodation (KHPA) parks nearby.
Where is the best Mountain Biking in New Zealand?
In the last 10–15 years, New Zealand has become a world-class mountain biking destination. The government and local bodies have assisted passionate groups in building trails and infrastructure to encourage both mountain biking tourism, and the health and community benefits related to pushing the pedals.
NZ has unforgettable mountain biking trails in both the North and South Islands, with a stark contrast in the terrain found in each. The North Island serves up trails that wrap around trees in our generous forestry plantations, while South Island trails more often follow wind-swept ridgelines covered in tussock grass and scatterings of rock. The question of which terrain is better is entirely down to your personal riding preference.
Mountain biking trails in Taupo
In the centre of the North Island, Taupo provides grand views of Lake Taupo and the mountains; Tongariro, Ruapehu and Ngauruhoe. It also boasts a huge range of mountain biking options. Visitors can choose the venue that best suits their riding ability and fitness level, from grade 1–2 e-bike and family tracks, through to white-knuckle grade 5 downhill runs.
Craters Mountain Bike Park is a good choice with close proximity to the Taupo town centre and a wide range of trails to suit all ages and abilities.
See where else you can go mountain biking around Taupo.
Where to stay in Taupo
Our Taupo All Seasons Kiwi Holiday Park offers a variety of accommodation options from a spot to pitch your tent through to backpacker lodges, and self-contained units with cooking facilities. Check out the best option for your budget, here.
Mountain biking trails in Rotorua
An hour’s drive north of Taupo is Rotorua, another lakeside city with world-beating mountain biking facilities. The area is so well-renowned for its trails, it hosts an annual leg of the global Crankworx mountain bike festival circuit.
In mountain biking circles, Rotorua is best known for ‘The Redwoods’ — 180km of continually changing trails set in the breath-taking Whakarewarewa Forest, just ten minutes out of the city.
Learn more about where to go mountain biking in Rotorua.
Where to stay in Rotorua
The Rotorua Thermal Holiday Park is an ideal base for those mountain biking in Rotorua. The accommodation offered includes powered tent sites, tourist flats for up to ten guests, en suite log cabins with kitchenettes, and more.
Mountain biking trails in Taranaki
Right out there on the west coast of the North Island lies the Taranaki region and the city of New Plymouth. Better known for its world-class surf breaks found on the Surf Highway (A.K.A: State Highway 45) ‘the naki’ as it’s affectionately referred to, is home to some excellent mountain biking.
The well-established New Plymouth Mountain Bikers club are caretakers of the trail network found in the forestry overlooking Lake Mangamahoe. The pedal-pusher’s paradise caters for kids, recreational cross country riders, and aggressive downhillers and jumpers.
Where to stay in Taranaki
The closest KHPA venue to the Lake Mangamahoe trails is Stratford Motels and Holiday Park, just 24 minutes’ drive away. This park boasts stunning native bush views, barbecues, a fully-equipped kitchen and a heated indoor swimming pool.
How to go mountain biking in New Zealand on a budget
Mountain biking can be an expensive sport when you invest in all the latest and greatest equipment and accessories. If you’re on a budget a few handy hints can help you reach maximum fun and satisfaction levels for minimum spend.
1. Pack your lunch
Packing your lunch the night before your big ride can help keep costs down dramatically. Nothing hurts the wallet more than calling in to the service station on your way to the trails and buying an overpriced lunch purely for the sake of convenience and poor planning. Visit the supermarket the night before and make and pack a nutritious and energy-filled lunch complete with trail snacks and an icepack to keep drinks cold throughout the day.
2. Know your route and string trails together
Researching and following the right route to get to trails can alleviate navigation stress and save you money. Some dedicated research can also help you string together trails in different areas over the course of a weekend or a longer holiday. A plan like setting off early Saturday morning to ride Taupo trails on Saturday, staying in Taupo overnight, then driving to Rotorua to session The Redwoods on Sunday morning will see you getting maximum seat-time out of one trip and great bang for your buck.
3. Think hard about where you’re going to stay
Mountain biking trips that take place over multiple days are fun-filled adventures but can quickly become expensive if you book any old accommodation. A wide range of accommodation types can be found at KHPA parks throughout New Zealand. Warm and cosy roofed options will keep you toasty before and after your winter riding sessions, and we have choices to match any budget. Check them out, here.
Happy trails and keep it rubber side down!