Auckland in 48 Hours
By Hayden Shore
Whilst trying to clear the inbox one night, up pops an email with the subject: AUCKLAND GUIDE REQUIRED THIS WEEKEND. This inbox is Woodhill MTB Parks - firstname.lastname@example.org, so this isn't unusual. This wasn't your standard school or work group booking though, this was from two guys from Australia wanting to ride as much as possible in two days.
Spotting an opportunity to highlight Auckland's understated MTB trails, I established that these two avid riders wanted to ride a stone’s throw from the city. It was spring, so all of Auckland's purpose built MTB trails (Woodhill, Hunua, Maraetai/Whitford and Totara Park) were ripe for showing off. Riverhead and Royal Albany trails would have to pass this time as their clay base, mostly shared use or 4wd type tracks, are only suitable for riding in drier months.
Early Saturday we unboxed and built their bikes and set off to Totara Park. The trails are Council, multi-use trails built on a farmed park 5 minutes from Manukau City. The predominantly gravelled, walkway style trails provide a good midweek training loop and in this case a good warm up, fresh off the plane. We cruised through a 7km loop of zigzagging trails, fine-tuned the rigs and warmed up the legs. After an hour of exploring, the crew were keen to head over and check out Hunua Forest.
Hunua Forest is another Auckland Council area (with a huge Auckland MTB Club influence) and the trails and location were a suitable step up for ride number two. I snaffled some great facts off the Auckland MTB Club website before heading there. I even got the hairs on the necks tingling and the green and gold blood pumping with informative recollections of Gold Digging and Land Wars! Despite the extensive almost all weather options of single track, forest road and dual use tracks, we decided to hit the well-marked predominantly single track loops. First, the Moumoukai Farm Loop and then the more challenging (excuse the pun) Mangatawhiri Challenge Trail. Both were a huge hit with the visitors and myself.
Being early afternoon we grabbed some lunch and headed straight to Maraetai. I haven't ridden there a whole lot, so we struggled a bit to find our way around the trails. When we did find something, it was very noticeable that the local Pohutakawa MTB Club had been hard at work and I look forward to heading there again this summer in drier conditions, to test out some of the newer trails. Nothing better than finishing a huge day in the saddle with filthy bikes!
The plans of “having a couple of beers” diminished after “just one” and it was off to sleep in readiness for a full day at the Home of Auckland Mountain Biking, Woodhill MTB Park.
Another early start allowed me to highlight the whole park to the Across the Ditchers. On arrival, as we drove past the big dirt jump park and in to the already bulging carpark, the gobsmacked Wallabies couldn't believe the set up. I explained to them that, although it looks busy, once you get out in the pine forest and the 100km trail, network numbers become scarce. Despite heavy rain that night, the sand base was super-fast and hard-packed. We started by hitting the newest of the 6 courses, the Intermediate to Advanced Habitual Fix Course (a 25km loop of trails linked together with easy to follow signage). Before heading back to the carpark for lunch, I threw in our new signature, 3km long Treasure Island Trail that they loved so much I had to wait while they did it again. After lunch, I towed the now slightly lagging pair down our very popular SPCA trail and showed them some of the more technical trails like Flying Fox, Cabbage Patch and Twist My Rubber Arm.
Apart from a mad rush to box up the bikes and get to the Airport, these two Aussies vowed to be back. Their parting words included “Flabbergasted and exhausted”.
Woodhill MTB Park
35mins northwest of Auckland, 100km+ of purpose built MTB Trail, 250 manmade features. Onsite Bike Hire, Mechanic, Proshop, Medical Response. Different trails for ALL ages, abilities and riding styles.