With over 700 tracks to ride, we reckon Lonely Planet’s spot on to call Welly ‘the coolest little capital in the world’! Many tracks are very close to the CBD, including Makara Peak MTB Park - some of the world’s best single track, and Mount Victoria with spectacular 360° views. Further out, Belmont Regional Park attracts riders from all over NZ, and the 114km Rimutaka Cycle Trail loops between Wellington Harbour and the Wairarapa.
Wellington Dirt Features
Local Trail Guide - WellingtonMt Victoria
The closest trails to the city form a maze on the side of Mt Victoria. It’s easy to kill a couple of hours here, no more than five minutes ride from the city. Short and steep trails characterize Mt Victoria and it’s very easy to get lost or end up repeating the same trails.
Skyline and Makara Peak
Makara Peak is the the capital’s most popular riding area with 8km of 4WD track and 24km of custom built single track. The single track routes have been designed for all abilities. Pop into a local bike shop and pick up a map or check out www.makarapeak.org
With a full day available, take the train from the central station to the Northern suburb of Johnsonville and gain a few hundred of metres of free elevation in the process. From here ride to the top of Mt Kau Kau. The skyline trail follows the ridgeline to Makara Peak, offering unending views and good grade three riding. At Makara Road, climb up to the Makara Peak summit. From here, there are options everywhere.
Is an easy ten minute ride from the central city. Development of the Polhill tracks has created a 17km offroad ride to the South Coast. Start with the Transient track, which climbs up through the Polhill Reserve to join the Karori Sanctuary Fenceline Track. Cross the road to find more single track that traverses past the experimental wind turbine above Brooklyn. From there, the Car Parts Extension and Barking Emu tracks continue to traverse and climb up to a high point at 400m on Hawkins Hill, with views north to the Tararua Range and south to the Kaikoura ranges and the Sounds. It’s a solid climb and even better descent. From here it's a blast down to Red Rocks on the south coast and an enjoyable cruise around the coastal track to Owhiro Bay.
The final pain of the day is a grunt and grind up the infamous Tip Track. The descent back to Aro Valley follows some of the trails you climbed earlier, plus a few new ones, loosing 400 vertical metres over 10km. A perfect end to a perfect ride is good food and drink at Aro Café, or some of the best fish and chips in the city at Aro Fish Bar, both only a 2 minute freewheel from the end of the trails.
Rata Ridge & the Wainui Trail Project
The East-West ferry is a very civilized way to get across the harbour to Days Bay and they carry bikes for free too! This ride starts with a slog up a trail alongside the Wainuiomata Hill Road but don’t let that put you off because great views and riding awaits. At the summit the trail leads south-east along Rata Ridge to Mt Lowry. This is a shared walking trail and it’s the back-country riding experience most accessible to Wellington. Expect lots of roots, some unrideable sections and plenty of glorious ungroomed native bush single track. The descent from the high point drops you at the wrong end of Wainui and gives you a chance to refuel.
Once recharged, head across to the Wainui Trail Project and a firebreak that climbs steadily. Then fix the grin for an hour of traversing and descend tight, twisty, rough but flowing, single track along Towhai Traverse, Labyrinyth and Snail Trail.
Jungle Gym is a nice climb and legs allowing, experts might want to carry on up Labyrinyth and descend the 491 and Spoonhill tracks. Intermediate riders can try Beeline, or anyone can jump off the trails here and descend the roadside trail back to the ferry (or ride into Petone for great refreshment options and take the train back from there).