Celebrating 10 Years of Crankworx Rotorua

Feb 7, 2024
by Official Crankworx  
2023 Crankworx Rotorua Speed Style c Clint Trahan
Athletes flying high at Speed & Style at Crankworx Rotorua 2023. (c) Clint Trahan

PRESS RELEASE: Crankworx World Tour

The Crankworx World Tour returns to New Zealand Aotearoa with a bang for Crankworx Rotorua’s 10-year anniversary. Taking place from March 16-24, 2024, the ultimate mountain bike experience will once again bring the world’s best freeride mountain bike athletes together to compete at pristine courses at Skyline Rotorua and in the Whakarewarewa and Titokoangi forests.

It has been a decade of gravity-defying moments, from setting foot in Rotorua and bringing the Crankworx World Tour to the Southern Hemisphere for the first time in 2015, to witnessing the phenomenal festival Crankworx Rotorua has evolved into over the past ten years. The remarkable journey was spearheaded by Crankworx Managing Director Darren Kinnaird and Rotorua Event Directors Tak Mutu and Ariki Tibble, and made only possible by the local teams and hundreds of dedicated volunteers.


The Rise of Local Legends
Local Tuhoto-Ariki Pene has spent most of his life on two wheels, beginning at the Rotorua BMX track at the tender age of three, naturally progressing into the mountain bike scene. Tuhoto-Ariki's inaugural Crankworx Rotorua race was the Downhill 13-16 Age Group in 2016. Fast forward to 2024, he is not merely an amazing rider, but a household name and sensation, proudly holding the coveted title of King of Crankworx. For Pene and his fellow Aotearoa riders, having such a significant event on their doorstep means a lot. The festival allows local riders to "see first-hand what level [they] need to be at before heading across the oceans to race” at Crankworx Cairns, Innsbruck, and Whistler.

bigquotesI remember my first Crankworx Rotorua, when I raced downhill as a little grom. I’m looking forward to seeing my mates again, having that race vibe and maybe throwing down some whips with the boys to celebrate 10 years.Tuhoto-Ariki Pene, reflecting on the past 10 years of Crankworx Rotorua

As Tuhoto-Ariki continues to blaze trails on the global mountain biking stage, his story resonates not only as a testament to athletic prowess but as an embodiment of resilience, cultural pride, and the spirit of a true local legend—Rotorua's very own King of Crankworx.

Crankworx Rotorua 2023 c Clint Trahan
Rotorua local and King of Crankworx Tuhoto-Ariki Pene at last year's Official New Zealand Whip-Off Championship. (c) Clint Trahan)

Another local legend who has played a crucial part in the success of Crankworx Rotorua was the late Kelly “McGazza” McGarry. Alongside his business partner, Tommy Hey, he was tasked with crafting the first Slopestyle course at Crankworx Rotorua. A venture that clearly showcased their unique blend of creativity and expertise with the construction of colossal ramps, pushing the boundaries of the sport. McGarry’s relentless efforts in testing the course during the days leading up to the event and their clear vision for the course were awe-inspiring. This year again, homage is being rendered through the Maxxis Slopestyle in Memory of McGazza at Crankworx Rotorua.

Championing Equality and Shaping the Future
In the world of Crankworx, Rotorua distinguished itself in 2015 by becoming the inaugural venue to award equal prize money to both male and female athletes, a bold stride towards parity. The momentum continued in 2016 with the debut Crankworx Speed and Style race for women, a contest that saw Jill Kintner emerge victorious over Casey Brown.

2023 Crankworx Rotorua Speed Style c Clint Trahan
Aotearoa rider Robin Goomes showing off her skills at the 2023 Speed & Style event.

The year 2024 heralds another groundbreaking chapter in this narrative, as Rotorua gears up to host the inaugural Diamond Level FMB Women's Slopestyle competition, a beacon event in the Crankworx World Tour and a pivotal moment for the sport of mountain biking. It provides a platform for the pioneering women in the sport to demonstrate their prowess, break ceilings, and pave the way for the future of Crankworx and mountain biking at large. This event is poised to fortify the Crankworx dedication to fostering equality and setting new benchmarks for generations to come.

Embracing Culture with “Tere Panuku”
Rotorua’s natural and cultural landscape is incredibly rich and the unique ability to combine riding with culture is just one of the reasons Crankworx Rotorua is referred to as “the soul of the Crankworx World Tour”. In 2020, Kingi Biddle, Pūkenga Mātauranga Māori (Māori Knowledge Specialist), bestowed the festival with the Te Reo Māori name "Tere Panuku," translating to "to glide, soar, and rise." As riders wrap up a day of intense racing, the essence of "Tere Panuku" truly comes to life with riders and becomes a palpable vibe electrifying everyone around it. “Māori is a metaphorical language so it’s not a direct translation,” Ariki Tibble, Event Director for Crankworx Rotorua explains. “‘Pa’ is a fortification. It also means to strike. ‘Nuku’ is a reference to shifting or moving. ‘Tere’ is a reference to speed. So, in essence it means to rapidly push boundaries in a way that is underpinned by strategy.”

Pump Track at Crankworx Rotorua 2023 c Clint Trahan
Tuhoto-Ariki Pene competing at the Pump Track event at Crankworx Rotorua 2023. (c) Clint Trahan

Looking back, Rotorua, with its warmth, generosity of spirit, and unwavering passion for mountain biking and the environment that sustains it, has become the embodiment of the festival's soul. For everyone excited for the big 10-year anniversary, tickets are available online. If you’re keen on competing at Crankworx Rotorua, make sure to sign up here.

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5 Comments
  • 12 0
 Good memories of CWX Rotorua when I was hosting Pinkbike vids working 18 hour days. The people and riding there are top notch.
  • 4 0
 First Crankworks I will be able to attend, I hope it’s gonna be awesome
  • 1 0
 I feel like it needs a change up though. its getting a bit samey samey for people that have been to a few
  • 1 0
 I dunno. DH has moved venue and moved weekend a couple of years ago, new pump track location, new whip jump, and rebuilt slopestyle and speed and style courses last year, schools nats (or north island schools champs or something?) this year. They're doing a bit of work. What would you change/add?
  • 1 0
 It still surprises me that there are only 10 freestyle enjoyers around pinkbike







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