Itinerary builder

Escape the city, hit the trails

With a hint of summer in the air, it’s the perfect time to start planning your escape from the city and heading out for a ride that's within easy reach of the city. What better excuse do you need to see new places, explore destinations steeped in history and get fit while you’re at it?

A group of riders salute the setting sun at the top of Craters Mountain Bike Park, Taupo, New Zealand. Photo: Derek Morrison

Escape the city, it will be worth every drop of sweat. Photo: Derek Morrison

It will take a bit of sweat, some effort, and a little bit of concentration, but the oomph will be worth it as you travel further from the ordinary to where the mountain bike trails of the Central North Island await. It's a whole other dimension from your city life.

Delve a little deeper and you'll get more out of your experience and closer to these destinations than ever before. We recommend that you include Hamilton & Waikato's Te Miro Mountain Bike Park, Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa Forest and Taupo’s Craters Mountain Bike Park in your list of must-dos. Each of these parks offers something for everyone from first-timers to the hard core and the family looking for adventure.

Discover the native bush wonders of Te Miro Mountain Bike Park – the perfect tonic for a stress-filled week of city life and a great prelude to the Whakarewarewa Forest.

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Take some 'me' time in Whakaerewarewa Forest, Rotorua. Photo: Graeme Murray

As you delve deeper into the Whaka Forest network you will be culturally, socially and physically rewarded. Former junior downhill world champion Scarlett Hagen, of BikeSchool, recently did just that.

“The magnitude of the trails in Whakarewarewa Forest were greater than I had ever expected," she explains. "The trails provide a beautifully crafted authentic mountain biking experience on award-winning trails.”

After savouring the beautifully crafted trails in Rotorua (you'll need a day or two to quench your thirst or destroy your legs – whichever comes first), it’s a two-hour-drive to the beautiful Lake Taupo. Once here, we recommend riding The Craters Mountain Bike Park – a popular mountain biking area with trails varying from 2-5km in length and with lots of variety. If your legs are tired, you can ride for just a few hours, but if you’re feeling fresh then you can spend a full day riding here.

Seeing new places is one thing, but experiencing them is another. Riding through the Central North Island will deepen your journey. It will give you that personal access that doesn’t come from the seat of a tour bus, or out a car window. You will get more than a glimpse into the heartland New Zealand way of life. It is your ride, on your terms. You can go as slow or as fast as you like. The slap of ferns in your face and the smell of hero dirt at your feet will ensure your mind stays out of the city you left behind.

Learn more about these parks

  • 20120925_CorridorW_GM_0002.jpg
    Whakarewarewa Forest is one of the most established mountain bike networks in New Zealand and has earned a worldwide reputation as one of the best. Also known as the Redwoods, there are more than 150km of trails in the forest that cater for all levels of rider, from beginners, through to family groups and expert riders looking for an extra challenge. From buff flowing trails to fun jump lines and rooty technical singletrack, there is something here for everyone to enjoy. This is the forest that put Rotorua on the world mountain biking map ... come and explore it for yourself. 
  • A group of riders explore Craters Mountain Bike Park, Taupo, New Zealand. Photo: DGLT
    Craters Mountain Bike Park is a popular mountain biking network in Wairakei Forest on the outskirts of Taupo. The park features almost 50km of purpose-built Grade 2-5 trails. Using the linked tracks, riders can choose to ride for just a few hours, or take a full day to explore all the trails. Tree cover comes in the form of mostly pine forest, which has created angled and undulating terrain that rides well all-year around with a trail to suit the whole family. Best of all you can ride directly to the park from town if you have plenty of energy to burn. 
  • Elite cross-country athlete and Commonwealth games silver medallist Sam Gaze rides a native trail in Te Miro Mountain Bike Park, Te Miro, Waikato. Photo: Derek Morrison
    Te Miro Mountain Bike Park is a growing network of trails off Waterworks Road, less than half an hour's drive from Cambridge. The 7km of trails are very popular with local mountain bike enthusiasts and one of Hamilton-Waikato's best-kept secrets.