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The RideNZ Event Guide

Plan your cycling holiday to intercept one of these events and you’ll have a far deeper, richer experience … and we’re not just talking about the lactic acid in your muscles or that post-event party fog. Here are the best events to explore each year …

JANUARY

Hawke’s Bay Summer Cycling Carnival

The Summer Cycling Carnival is a celebration of cycling combining elite races with fun cycling events. It begins with the best of New Zealand cycling featuring the Elite Road National Championships and follows on with loads of fun events for the kids, families and recreational riders. The Carnival has something for everyone.

Best suited to: Elite racers and families looking to rub shoulders with greatness.
Region: Hawke’s Bay
Tell me more: summercyclingcarnival.co.nz


Mountain Bike Taupo ‘Worlds’ Summer Series

Explore some of Taupo’s favourite mountain bike trails as you vie for bragging rights Staged over eight weeks of racing the Summer Series caters for all ages with a long, short and special kid’s course.

Best suited to: Anyone with a competitive streak.
Region: Taupo
Tell me more: Summer Series

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Fun and games for the Rotorua Bike Festival Dipper Dash. Photo: Rotorua Bike Festival/Mead Norton

FEBRUARY

Rotorua Bike Festival

Think 10 days of cycling madness in the peak summer sun in the world's premier, all-year-round, mountain biking resort. Yep, we had to pinch ourselves, too. But it's true – Rotorua does bike festivals like no one else on the planet. Bring the whole family and an open mind (a singletrack mind will work just as well).  
 
Best suited to: Everyone from kids to adults, from those just starting out with bikes to those bent on racing and from those intent on wearing a frock to those with just one gear.
Region: Rotorua
Tell me more: rotoruabikefestival.com


Mountain Bike Taupo ‘Worlds’ Summer Series

Explore some of Taupo’s favourite mountain bike trails as you vie for bragging rights Staged over eight weeks of racing the Summer Series caters for all ages with a long, short and special kid’s course.

Best suited to: Anyone with a competitive streak.
Region: Taupo
Tell me more: Summer Series

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The buzz of Crankworx Rotorua. Photo: Derek Morrison


MARCH

Crankworx Rotorua

If mountain biking had its own Olympics then this would be it. The world’s elite athletes arrive in Rotorua for a week of intense riding, partying and good times with any rider or spectator keen to get involved. With a handful of kid’s races and lots of opportunity to meet the stars of the sport there is something for the whole family at Crankworx.

Best suited to: The Crankworx buzz is open to everyone!
Region: Rotorua
Tell me more: Crankworx Rotorua


Contact Great Lake Monster MTB Challenge

This fun mountain biking event is designed for children aged 5 to 12 years old. Run by the St Patrick's Catholic School PTFA in conjunction with Bike Taupo and MTB Taupo, it is designed to provide a fun, semi-competitive event for children to experience the awesome sport of mountain biking. Every entrant receives a goodie bag, every finisher gets a medal and there are a HEAP of spot prizes!

Best suited to: All children aged 5-12.
Region: Taupo
Tell me more: Monster MTB Challenge

APRIL

The Generator

Centered around the Waikato River Trails and the mighty Waikato River, The Generator is a multisport event that provides options that are challenging, but achievable. There is a distance to accommodate all levels of fitness, adventure and enthusiasm. There is even an opportunity for kids to have a crack at multisport with the Kids UNO event. Make it a family day out.

Best suited to: All-round athletes and kids looking to dip a toe in multisporting.
Region: Hamilton & Waikato
Tell me more: The Generator


Xterra Rotorua Festival

Xterra wants everyone to “live more” and they certainly embody that with the Xterra Rotorua Festival. Since its inception in 2003, the Xterra Rotorua Festival has grown to become the biggest Xterra event in the world. Each year it offers eight events for competitors to choose from – all set in and around Rotorua’s Blue Lake and Whakarewarewa Forest. It is without question amongst the most beautiful scenery in New Zealand.

Best suited to: Anyone with masochistic tendencies.
Region: Rotorua
Tell me more: Xterra Rotorua


The Big Easy

The Big Easy is the ultimate antidote to all those serious lycra-laden cycling events held across the country. The Big Easy ride is 43km on the Hawke’s Bay Trails – a ride designed to take all day and link in as many tasty Hawke’s Bay distractions as possible. Daunted by the 43km? Then maybe The Little Easy is for you. This ride is a nice gentle 12km loop along the Central Hawke's Bay Rotary River Pathway.

Best suited to: Those looking for a relaxed event that’s as much about the wine and food as it is about the trails.
Region: Hawke’s Bay
Tell me more: The Big Easy


MAY

T42

Based around the famous 42 Traverse Track, which is known to many mountain bikers as one of the best one-day mountain bike trails in the country, this is an event loaded with adventure. The 42 Traverse Track is an historic logging road through native bush – it is undulating, but has more down than up with a handful of technical bits and a handful of short river crossings. Oh, yeah, it’s awesome. The event finishes in the Owhango Township Domain where there is all sorts of good stuff going on.

Best suited to: Fit riders with a nose for adventure …
Region: Ruapehu
Tell me more: T42

JUNE

Craters Classic

The Craters Classic is one of Taupo’s favourite mountain bike events set in the acclaimed Craters Mountain Bike Park just five minutes’ drive from the Taupo CBD. The Craters Classic has three distances on offer ranging from the family friendly 10km, 25km and the feature of the event, the 40km course all set on the most amazing singletrack in Taupo.

Best suited to: Anyone with a singletrack mind!
Region: Taupo
Tell me more: Craters Classic


Maungatautari Mission

The Maungatautari Ecological Island Trust was set up to build and maintain a totally pest-proof fence around the forest on Maungatautari and the Maunga Mission multisport (road cycle, run, mountain bike, paddle) event supports this trust. All you have to do is enter and sweat it out with a group of friends for the day. The Maunga Mission can be approached as an individual, team or as an adventure race. It will provide a challenge for all and a chance to take advantage of the fantastic environment we have right on our doorstep.

Best suited to: Those who like a challenge, want to dab a toe in multi-sporting while contributing to protecting the Mount Maungatautari Reserve.
Region: Hamilton & Waikato
Tell me more: The Maunga Mission


FAWC Winter

Four weekends of food and wine events that will have your taste buds buzzing. Stave off the guilty pleasures by exploring the Hawke’s Bay Trails in between degustations. This is a celebration of some of the Hawke’s Bay’s finest local produce.

Best suited to: Foodies and vino lovers looking for a winter escape with cycle trails to link it altogether.
Region: Hawke’s Bay
Tell me more: Winter FAWC


JULY

Karioi Classic

Raglan’s famous bike race is held on mostly gravel roads around Mt Karioi – the peak that towers above the famous surf breaks that have turned this town into a thriving hub. The Karioi Classic offers three distance options: 43km, 57km and the Karioi Classic Enduro at 85km. This option is only recommended for very experienced riders.

Best suited to: Gravel fiends who want to lap around this beautiful sleeping lady.
Region: Hamilton & Waikato
Tell me more: Karioi Classic


Crafty Trout Night Series

Every Thursday night from mid-July this six-round series takes over Craters Mountain Bike Park in the Wairakei Forest near Taupo with a 10km course. Registration is from 5:15pm with racing underway at 6pm. A decent set of lights are a must …

Best suited to: Night owls who like to ride, ride, ride ...
Region: Taupo
Tell me more: Crafty Trout Night Series

Motu Special

A series of 5, 12, 25 and 50km loops through farmland all staged out of Motu Community House with something for all ages and abilities. Explore the loops at your leisure or race your mum and dad – it’s more about the experience than the trophy.

Best suited to: Newcomers to mountain biking and families looking for a heartland New Zealand experience.
Region: Eastland
Tell me more: Motu Special


Okoroire Midwinter Fun Ride

This popular winter event is suitable for most cyclists, almost regardless of fitness.
It starts and finishes at the Okoroire Hot Springs Hotel and is a very social event with many participants travelling there on Saturday and staying the night. Camping and motorhome parking is also available. The course is mainly flat with one reasonably gentle climb into Tirau, then an undulating road back to the start.

Best suited to: Anyone. Some fitness will make your day more fun, but it’s not mandatory.
Region: Hamilton & Waikato
Tell me more: Okoroire Midwinter Fun Ride

AUGUST

Crafty Trout Night Series

Every Thursday night from mid-July this six-round series takes over Craters Mountain Bike Park in the Wairakei Forest near Taupo with a 10km course. Registration is from 5:15pm with racing underway at 6pm. A decent set of lights are a must …

Best suited to: Night owls who like to ride, ride, ride ...
Region: Taupo
Tell me more: Crafty Trout Night Series

SEPTEMBER

The Gambler

Staged in the Craters Mountain Bike Park in the Wairakei Forest near Taupo the Pack & Pedal The Gambler is a multi-lap race with four courses and four hours to complete them all. Collect points as you race around them as a solo, family, team or school group.

Best suited to: Singletrack lovers and those wanting to settle the score with mates, family, partners or other.
Region: Taupo
Tell me more: The Gambler

OCTOBER

Whaka 100

The Whaka100 has earned a reputation as the best 100km of mountain bike racing in the Southern Hemisphere – it’s a fantastic achievement to complete. Staged just five minutes from Rotorua’s CBD, the Whaka 100 takes advantage of the 140km of singletrack perfection throughout the Whakarewarewa Forest. Does the 100km sound like a bit too much? Well how about the Whaka 50 or 25? Challenge yourself on some of the best singletrack trails in the world.

Best suited to: Masochists who like to pamper themselves by enduring 100km of beautifully buff singletrack.
Region: Rotorua
Tell me more: Whaka 100


Motu Challenge

Opotiki's Motu Challenge is regarded as the North Island’s premier multisport event and is one of the country's best known races of its kind, boasting winners such as Elina Ussher and Sam Clark. The event takes in truly rugged terrain and some of the finest scenery of any multisport event in New Zealand. The race is run through native bush-clad gorges, valleys and hills and down the Waioeka River. The mountain bike stage has been voted the best mountain bike section of any race in New Zealand.

Best suited to: Multisporters who prioritise quality mountain biking over everything else.
Region: Eastland
Tell me more: Motu Challenge

K2 Cycle Race

The Flight Centre K2 is possibly the toughest one-day cycle challenge in the Southern Hemisphere. It is also one of the most scenic and varied with the route travelling through sub-tropical forest, Pacific coastlines, rural farmland and the Pohutakawa-lined coastline of the Hauraki Gulf.
The event is named after Kuaotunu, a community on the wild eastern coastline of the Coromandel Peninsula. In Maori, the name Kuaotunu means “to inspire fear in young animals”! The 2 represents the almost 200km that the ride will cover.

Best suited to: Roadies who love a scenic challenge along coastal backroads and some mighty big hills.
Region: The Coromandel
Tell me more: K2 Cycle Race

NOVEMBER

The Taniwha

The Taniwha celebrates the trail work undertaken by the Waikato River Trails Trust over the past 13 years, culminating in around 100km of top quality trails, most of it on previously inaccessible land along the mighty Waikato River. This event is an epic, challenging yet achievable event along the Waikato River Trails. Run as a point-to-point event, it offers individuals and teams of all ages, abilities and levels of fitness, the opportunity to run/walk or mountain bike these amazing trails.

Best suited to: Anyone with an itch to scratch and within a cooee of the Waikato River Trails… that’s you.
Region: Hamilton & Waikato
Tell me more: The Taniwha


Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge/Huka Challenge

From its humble beginnings in 1977, the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge has grown into one of New Zealand’s premier and largest cycling events, with around 8000 riders from across New Zealand and over 20 countries across the globe taking part each year. From mountain biking to hard-out roadies there is something for everyone at this event.

Best suited to: Roadies who love a scenic challenge along coastal backroads and some mighty big hills.
Region: Taupo
Tell me more: cyclechallenge.com


FAWC Summer

Just like winter but warmer, longer daylight hours and just so much sunshine. Four weekends of food and wine events that will have your taste buds buzzing. Stave off the guilty pleasures by exploring the Hawke’s Bay Trails in between degustations. This is a celebration of some of the Hawke’s Bay’s finest local produce.

Best suited to: Foodies and vino lovers looking for a summer escape with cycle trails to link it altogether.
Region: Hawke’s Bay
Tell me more: FAWC Summer

Want to do some practise laps?

  • 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. 
  • 20150322_Light_0065_3000px.jpg
    The Mount Karioi Loop ride is a Grade 3 trail that conveniently starts and finishes in central Raglan. From the town centre, you can ride for 45km around the entire Mount Karioi (also known as The Sleeping Lady), a 2.4 million year-old extinct volcano. The trail travels along gravel roads as it meanders through private farmland with spectacular views of the Tasman Sea below. This challenging half-day ride guides riders 950m above sea level, with views stretching down New Zealand’s West Coast beaches and seascapes. 
  • 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. 
  • Gabby Molloy (left) and Justin Leov chase each other down the Grade 2 Simple Jack trail at the Skyline Rotorua MTB Gravity Park. Photo: Nick Lambert
    Skyline Rotorua is home to the world's first year-round Gondola-assisted bike park, Skyline Rotorua MTB Gravity Park. The gravity park accesses the world-class downhill mountain biking trails on the flanks of Mt Ngongotaha. The 8.5km trail network has a variety of trails with something to suit most skill levels. There are six mostly downhill trails emerging from the top of the gondola, ranging from Grade 2 to Grade 5. Home to Crankworx and UCI World MTB events, Skyline Rotorua MTB Gravity Park, has become a must-do highlight on any traveller's itinerary. 
  • Trek World Racing star Brook MacDonald at home training in Pan Pac Eskdale Mountain Bike Park, Napier, Hawke's Bay. Photo: Derek Morrison
    The Pan Pac Eskdale MTB Park is one of New Zealand’s largest and most highly regarded riding areas. Set on privately owned land, the high points offer sweeping views across Hawke's Bay. There is something for everyone in the 100km network of trails, with purpose-built downhill, cross-country, freeride tracks and gentle rolling trails connected by a backbone of wide, smooth forestry roads. With a variety of trails ranging from Grade 1-5, there is riding for all abilities here. 
  • The lads relax alongside the Pakihi River at the end of the Motu Trail, Eastland, New Zealand. Photo: Derek Morrison
    Motu Trails provides a trilogy of contrasting trails that can be ridden in a loop totalling 93km. The three links offer a range of all-terrain riding, which includes stunning beaches, spectacular native forest and family friendly rest stops. This cycle trail can be ridden all year as a full loop, or can be split into the three shorter sections. As a popular 1-3 day ride, it offers options for all ages, abilities, fitness levels and preferences. 

More top stories

  • 20150325_CWXWhip_0574.jpg
    It was the passion of the community for mountain biking and the quality of the trails that convinced Crankworx general manager Darren Kinnaird to bring his beloved festival to Rotorua, New Zealand. 
  • Trek World Racing's Justin Leov rides Kataore Trail in the Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo: Derek Morrison
    They make you laugh out loud, sweat, maybe spill blood and still hoot with joy. You do them with your mates and find new friends along the journey. Once in a while you might even make a monumental fool of yourself. You don’t mind – these are the mountain bike experiences that will be embedded in your cortex, forever. Here are just some curated by writer Graeme Simpson ... 
  • Brook MacDonald at home in Napier, Hawke's Bay. Photo: Derek Morrison
    He may be a regular Top 10 rider in the UCI World Cup Downhill circuit, but when Brook Macdonald returns home to Hawke's Bay at the end of each year, he loves nothing better than blasting around Pan Pac Eskdale MTB Park with friends. We caught up with the rider nick-named Bulldog at his home in Napier and took him out for a few laps in his backyard. 
  • Justin Leov rides Kataore – one of his favourite trails in Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua, New Zealand. Photo: Derek Morrison
    When Justin Leov touches down in Rotorua he has one forest on his mind. RideNZ.co talks to the 32-year-old professional downhill and enduro mountain biker about why he loves the trails of Whakarewarewa Forest and why Rotorua has become the heart of mountain biking in New Zealand.