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Pan Pac Eskdale MTB Park

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.

I ride four times a week and so I have to mix it up between the older more techy and rooty trails and the flowing trails of the newer block. We get a bit excited on most rides and manage 25km without crossing the same trail. We take turns to dream up the trail mix for each day.

Ross Mepham, Hawkes Bay MTB Club parks manager Share

!!NOTE!! October 31, 2017: There are currently logging operations underway that are affecting the Pan Pac Eskdale MTB Park. The entire Mill Block is currently CLOSED, for logging access. Plan is to re-open Mill Block on Friday, November 3. Waipunga is open to ride for current club members and visitor permit holders with access from the Waipunga Road carparks only. Tait Block is closed for logging, Replanted Block is closed for thinning and Pakuratahi Block is also closed. Contact Eskdale MTB Park Manager, Ross Mepham on 022 544 0069 for latest info.

The trail surfaces in Pan Pac Eskdale MTB Park are clay based with a sprinkling of pine needles for most of the year, ensuring good conditions exist year-round. The trail surface creates a fast rolling base – the perfect formula as you test your flow around the berms and down the singletrack lines between the trees. Ride for an hour, or get lost in here for a few days as you test out all of the trails that Eskdale has to offer.

Trek World Racing star Brook MacDonald at home training in Pan Pac Eskdale Mountain Bike Park, Napier, Hawke's Bay. Photo: Derek Morrison

Brook MacDonald rides the Sweeper Trail in Eskdale MTB Park, Hawke's Bay. Photo: Derek Morrison

While a lot of the trails in Pan Pac Eskdale MTB Park have been built by the Hawkes Bay MTB Club over the past 21 years, it is not surprising to learn that professional trail builder Jeff Carter, one of the key trail developers in Whakarewarewa Forest, Rotorua, has had a recent influence here with new developments. Flowing trails that link beautifully throughout the forest are the tell-tale signs that a lot of love, sweat and tears have gone into this forest network.

Hawke's Bay MTB Club parks manager Ross Mepham said the club, which boasted nearly 2000 members, was prolific with its working bees to develop the park into an internationally renowned facility.

"Our new block has a lot of mostly descending flowing trails," Ross explains. "Grand Traverse, Stingray and Tinker are all about flow, while Mr Whippy and Mint are really jump lines. But even in the original block, trails like Bolt, Ninja, Rocket and Voltage are firm favourites for me."

"I ride four times a week and so I have to mix it up between the older more techy and rooty trails and the flowing trails of the newer block. We get a bit excited on most rides and manage 25km without crossing the same trail. We take turns to dream up the trail mix for each day," Ross laughs.

He maintains that the trails are quite different to those of Rotorua, but of a similar quality.

You'll need a permit to ride in this working forest. These can be bought from Hawke's Bay Mountain Bike Club, Takaro Trails Cycle Tours (included with bike hire), iSite, Bayview 4 Square and local bike shops.

Insider Tips

  • Because the Pan Pac Tangoio Forest is a privately owned commercial working forest, all riders and runners need to purchase a visitor's permit (or club membership) to access the park, which includes a colour trail map. These are available through the Hawke's Bay Mountain Bike Club, Takaro Trails Cycle Tours, iSite, Bayview 4 Square and local bike shops.
  • The 1730ha park is divided into five blocks. The two blocks adjacent to State Highway 5, Tait and Waipunga (670ha, with approximately 70km of trails), will be harvested between 2017 and 2019 and will be closed during that time. The new Mill Block now has over 33km of modern MTB trails with more to be built. The Pakuratahi DH Track is in a separate block that cannot be accessed from the rest of the park, but only via Pakuratahi Valley Road, off SH2.
  • All the trails are signposted stating their trail rating (Beginner to Expert), trail length and trail name, plus the signage features an emergency GPS ID marker point. Most trails are two-way, but the one-way only trails have No Entry signage at their exits.

Getting There 

Pan Pac Eskdale MTB Park is best accessed from Napier. Napier has its own airport and this is the best way to access the area directly from Auckland. Napier is a two-hour drive from Taupo (142km) and a three-hour drive from Gisborne (215km). Napier is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Palmerston North (177km). The trails begin 16km from Napier township (10 minute's drive). Pan Pac Eskdale MTB Park has 4 carparks with the majority of users accessing either the Tait Rd carpark or the Mill Block carpark, both found off State Highway 2 just north of the Napier-Taupo Road turnoff. Please note: You'll need a permit to ride in this privately owned working forest. See our Insider Tips above to locate where you can get these from.

Tell Me More

Pan Pac Eskdale MTB Park is managed by the Hawke's Bay MTB Club. The club's website is a great resource of information: hawkesbaymtb.co.nz.

The Hawke's Bay Trails, which form part of the Nga Haerenga – the New Zealand Cycle Trail, will in future aim to travel past the Pan Pac Eskdale MTB Park, but currently reaches only as far as Bayview. For information on the Hawkes Bay Trails, we recommend visiting NZ Cycle Trail.

For a range of information, we recommend visiting the Hawke's Bay Tourism website when planning your trip to this region.

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