NZ’s biggest city has a HUGE variety of attractions, vibrant mix of cultures, and diverse landscapes; from cosmopolitan cityscape to blissful beaches and rainforest. Auckland is well known as a largest sprawling city, and subsequently has multiple riding destinations spanning the Region. A lot of the work on the trails is done by active Club Members in association with Local Bodies.
Auckland Dirt Features
Local Trails - Auckland
Hugely popular, Woodhill Forest is home to a dedicated network of mountain biking tracks and jump spots. Trails are spread along 12,500 hectares (just under 31,000 acres) of forested land, offering plenty of options for all skill levels. The park is approximately 40 minutes away from the central business district, and is open pretty much all year round.
The Runway Mountain Bike Park
Located within The District at Auckland Airport, this newly-built park features a network of short tracks suitable for all ability levels, from beginners and children to intermediate riders. There is a 50m Pump Track: a circuit of dirt rollers and berms that can be ridden without pedaling.
Maraetai Whitford Forest.
There is a small network of ‘old school’ clay based trails with steep gradients, off camber sections and lots of roots. Riding 4 or 5 trails in the morning really wakes me up. Maraetai and Whitford, East Auckland have been getting a lot of work by the Pohutakawa Mountain Bike Club. These guys have been looking after the old trail network and have also been adding to it by building new trail. They run regular shuttle days and are pretty organised with social rides.
Four Forty Mountain Bike Park.
One of the most exciting new biking hotspots to have hit Auckland in a long time is the new gravity mountain bike park, Fourforty. The reason for the name is very straightforward — the park is a downhill thrill ride consisting of 440 metres of vertical height. This makes it something of a behemoth for Auckland, and is even pretty accessible, being only an hour’s drive from the centre of town, located between Kawakawa Bay and Orere Point.
The park is made up of 16 tempting tracks with varying levels of difficulty, from beginner right up to expert. As many of the trails are pretty fast, safety is taken very seriously so you will need proper protective gear to ride here, with all tracks requiring helmets and some tracks requiring compulsory wear of full face helmets. So don’t leave home unprepared if you do choose to ride here.
You should also be aware before taking off that they do not allow you to ride to the top of the tracks by yourself, but instead you must buy tickets for the shuttle bus that will take you up. You can pre-book them online, with one run starting at $10, with other options available such as six runs for $40 and 10 for $60. The only possible drawback to the park at the moment is that it’s not open in the week — as such you can usually only ride here at weekends between 9:30am and 4:00pm.
Franklin Mountain Bike Park.
The Franklin MTB park is another fantastic place to ride, with a buffed well built pump track to warm up on and a set of dirt jumps that caters for children through to experienced riders. There is also a 5 km xc loop under tall pines that flows well and provides a good challenge the faster you ride it.
If you’re looking for a single trail that is a bit out of the ordinary but still not far from Auckland CBD, then the Royal Albany Trail is the place to go. Only around 30 minutes from the city, these single track trails are located in the large woodland area behind Massey University. Although they are said to have originally been illegally created and used by bikers in the area, the trails are now fully supported by the local authorities and University. As such, they’ve now developed into a decent 20km of track.
The trail is now divided up into several different parts, but it’s actually meant to be ridden as a single route, done as one big loop. The trail is fairly challenging, said to be at Grade 3 or 4, so is better for intermediate to advanced riders.
As the entire thing is volunteer created and funded, generally more care needs to be taken as it isn’t going to be as well maintained as a funded park, and it is more likely to be out of action after bad weather. Likewise, there aren’t any bike stores or coffee shops on site, so it might be worth taking your repair kit along as well as any refreshments. Having said all of that, Albany is only a five minute drive down the road with a bike shop of its own and places to get food or drink. Also, the totally non-corporate feel of the track is a large part of its appeal — it’s a labour of love rather than a money spinner. This also means it’s obviously free to ride and there are no restrictions on when you can ride, weather permitting of course.
Should you already be a family of keen mountain bikers, or you are looking to inspire your children into taking up the sport, you might be looking for a family friendly park to cater for these needs. Fortunately, just 20 minutes south of Auckland central, right next to Manukau, is the excellent Totara Park.
Appealing directly to families with young children, there is even a specially designed Kids’ Loop. This consists of a nice and easy 100m track that will hopefully give young kids a good taste of the fun that can be had from mountain biking. If you’re worried that it all sounds a bit tame, there are at least eight more custom made tracks from beginner all the way to advanced level. Many of these consist of challenging single track with varied terrain and different obstacles along the way — both man-made and natural. The Snakey Bridge obstacle that winds precariously through the thick gorse on the Advanced Loop would certainly test most bikers’ abilities, especially at speed.
Being a large (a sizeable 110 hectares) family friendly and well run park in general, there are good facilities on site including toilets and decent spots to have a picnic or a barbeque. Also, should your family grow tired of mountain biking — always a possibility with younger kids or perhaps those who unfortunately don’t enjoy it as much as you do — there are a number of other activities at Totara. Specifically, if you’re going with children, there is an award winning adventure playground and in the warmer months there is also an outside swimming and paddling pool. As well as this, there is a tennis court on site, horse riding tracks and also a number of picturesque walks with various lookouts along the way, giving great views of Rangitoto Island. Best of all, the mountain bike trail and other facilities are free to use and are open for use seven days a week and all year round, weather permitting.
If you’re looking to get out of the city, and are looking for a scenic cycle that can also raise your fitness levels, then consider taking the ferry over to Waiheke island.
The easiest way to get there from Auckland City is to hop on the ferry at Quay Street, and in only 30 minutes you can be on a little island paradise that will feel like a world away from the bustle of the town. Once you get there you will find that there are many bikes to hire, so you could always take this option if you are perhaps going with the family and don’t fancy struggling with kids’ bikes and so on. Still, rental bikes are never the best so taking your own is always the better option.
Having said that, the island is pretty hilly, and you will notice that many of the locals get about on electric bicycles to lift them up some of the steeper inclines. Some of the hills may be a little unsuitable for very young children or those of you not in great shape! What this does mean, though, is that it’s great for road cyclists, so if you’re looking for thrills and spills of the cross-country variety you might be disappointed. However, the roads do take you up some challenging hills that are great for cardiovascular fitness which is always helpful, whatever you ride. Once at the top, you will also find it’s more than worth it with fantastic views over the island or back across to Auckland.
A popular route to go for with a family in tow is from Oneroa to Onetangi. At less than ten kilometres, it’s not a long ride, but with steep hills from the get-go it can be quite challenging at times. Onetangi offers a few nice cafes to grab lunch and a cold drink, and there’s an attractive beach to laze on before cycling back. If alone or with experienced cyclists, it would be worth cycling from Oneroa to Ostend and further along some undulating yet challenging inclines to Whakanewha Regional Park. On the cycle back, you can go past the lookouts over Palm Beach for some truly breathtaking views of the island, which would put a smile on anyone’s face.