Discovering New Zealand, the Mountain Bikers' Paradise

Jun 20, 2014
by John Colthorpe  
Views: 20,188    Faves: 92    Comments: 4


New Zealand has been in the MTB press of late and there's good reason for it. New Zealand is a Mountain biker's paradise. Landscapes so diverse in terrain and mountain bike trails the same. Mountain biking hot spots from Auckland to now world famous Queenstown, Rotorua, Taupo, Wellington, Nelson and Christchurch the list goes on. So much trail goodness in between to satisfy every Downhill, Enduro, Cross Country and back country mountain biker.

The New Zealand Government and DOC the (Department of Conservation) now also see how great mountain biking is with more new trails be opened for Mountain bikers as we speak. Local support in trail building is coming from Trail Fund NZ helping fund the local trail networks and building of more sustainable trails. It's not just the now that is great riding in New Zealand, but the future of mountain biking in NZ is in great shape.

The guys at JustMTB took me along to document their test tour to see how everything falls in to place and to session some epic trails!

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
To start off our trip we hopped on a water taxi for a brisk trip across the beautifully blue Queen Charlotte Sound, it dropped us off ready to hit the trail.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
We were a long way away from anything close to a city and it felt great.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
The track had some amazing scenes and some even more amazing riding, here Dorian gets his way around the banking.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
Next up on the trip was Old Ghost Road, an old Gold Miners road revived into a Mountain Bikers dream, we unloaded the van and got to it.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
At points we were climbing scree trail with a 300M drop to the side, it's not for the faint-hearted.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
After 4 hours of climbing and 1000+ Metres we made it to Lyell Saddle Hut, a perfect stopping point before we began climbing the rest of the way to the top.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
The graphic they chose for the Rockfall sign really tells a story about the trail, luckily that section was quite short.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
A few hours of climbing later and we had made it to the top. Here Aaron picks his line down the perfectly sculpted ridgeline.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
After conquering the mountain Aaron was too stoked to have made it to the top he began to offer his bike to the trail gods.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
The view from the top was incredible, with single track dotting the mountainous backgrounds.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
After five hours of climbing we were ready for the descent, an hour plus of fast paced and exciting downhill was ahead of us, from open wide trails to single track lines through the trees Old Ghost Road has everything.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
The craftsmanship of the trail is absolutely second to none, carving trail into steep native bush takes a good amount time and effort and they made it all worth it for views like this.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
Up next we took a trip to the Flockhill Boulders near Craigeburn Forest Park, here Dorian scopes out our line choices for the fastest way there.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
The Boulder field was like a natural freeride park, so many options to pop off rocks, rail wallrides and send it from boulder to boulder.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
The amount of lines was endless with some crazy high speed descending to go with it too.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
Cutting in your own line whilst you ride can get wild at times in these unridden outbacks, but it leads to some epic moments.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
Next up we made it over the the home of New Zealand Enduro Craigeburn Forest Park, world famous for its amazing trails formed from walking trails to masterpieces of singletrack. Here Dorian rails the snow capped lines.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
The amount of hours that have gone into these trails have all been worth it for the feeling of flying through the mountains.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
The Craigeburn hero dirt was the best I've ever ridden making for perfect riding conditions, here Dorian makes easy work of the trails natural features.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
The selection of trails was incredible, everything from wide and loamy to rooty and steep.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
We then made the trip over to NZ's most well know trail centre Queenstown, at first light we made the trip up to Fernhill Loop.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
The clouds rolled in as we made our way down only to open up to bright Sunshine a few minutes later in typical New Zealand weather fashion.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
Making the trip to the out back and less ridden of Queenstowns trails is definitely worth it, here Dorian races his shadow to the end of the trail.

JustMTB Tour - Discover New Zealand Images Copyright - John Colthorpe
It would'nt be a Queenstown visit without a quick rip down the Skyline trails to finish the tour, the Gondola up was definitely a relief after all the previous climbing.

We finished our tour after having completed 10 days of solid riding and over 300KMs of quality trail to return home to show off what you can get up to on a JustMTB tour.

So whether you're a World Cup Pro or you just love to ride, New Zealand has it all. Mountain Bike events litter the calendar, with amazing races in stunning locations through out the country. There's good reason New Zealand mountain bikers are on the rise to World Cup podiums.

Like most New Zealand is on your bucket list of places to visit, don't just visit.. come and ride!

www.justmtb.co.nz is your discovery ticket to New Zealand.

And you can view the full image gallery here: JustMTB Tour Gallery


31 Comments

  • 13 0
 Call me biased, but being factual. Have been lucky enough to mtb South America, North America, Europe, South Africa.... And trust me, the world has some sick sick riding.... But feel that for year round riding, NZ rocks it... The diversity of terrain, scenery, people.... It is indeed the mountain bikers paradise..... But Whistler is the shizzle to, give me some Goats Gully any day....
  • 2 0
 I'll agree with that! People are all so friendly too! I got a flat 7km out from Queenstown and some campervan hippies gave me a lift back! freeakin awesome!!
  • 4 0
 I'm a Brit living in QT at the mo, and I have to agree. I've lived in whistler and traveled Europe, but there is definitely something special over here. The terrain changes so much for whatever your into. Can honestly say I've done some of the best biking I've ever done here. However, whistler bike park will always be the best park!
  • 5 0
 "Been spending most our lives in a mountain bikers paradise"
  • 5 7
 Well, I lived in NZ for a year and I'm considering going back. Kiwis are great people -laid back and so nice. Rotorua was a massive disappointment for me. I don't understand why people are enjoying it so much -there is nothing special about the trails there -except trails are man-made. But hey, that's just my opinion :/.

Taupo on the other hand was fantastic - some trails are way more natural and I liked the scenery better Smile

You gotta go to the South Island for some real mountain biking - Nelson and Queenstown are the s**t! Don't waste your money on Rotorua it's not worth it.

I'm well traveled when it comes to mtb and Whistler and Queenstown are easily the most friendly place for mtbiking. Yet you won't find the best DH tracks in Whistler or Queenstown nor some epic gnarly, rocky, loose and natural trails there. It's just a matter of preference.

Therefore I do think France is the cycling paradise by a long margin. Bike parks are not the best but the terrain is Smile . You can ride where the f*ck you want, we don't give a damn about private property. And you can squid where the f**k you want, trails are already so f*cked up it won't change anything Big Grin .
  • 3 0
 Riding and living in Rotorua and the South Island, my fav trails DH Trail are in the SI, that said, by the way you've explained Rotorua and your opinion, I bet you took the lazy usual bike trip way and missed allot of the pure gold trails, we have as many un man made trails, that we esspecially wont share with people who put them up on FB, Strava or name them in videos, did you ride Rainbow mtn, Moerangi, Okatinia? No prob too hard not the way down but getting to them.

I ride Taupo regualry too and many places in the region this is your opinion and thats great, if its balanced and you truly experienced Rotoruas riding which from what you said is obvious you havent, now I regualry tell my freinds that Central Otago / Craigieburn is best for me, so I am not biased, maybe you are a Gondala person.

This coming summer we will have our Gondala bike park opening, run by the same company in Queenstown opening up for easy lazy action. Expectations will be high first year but Rome is not built in a day.

I meet as many mtb tourists in Qtown who havent ridden crap all outside of the bikepark and same goes for here, do that and you will get bored very quickly, maybe you should have got a guided trip?

Experience it for yourself people make up your own mind!

If I can give you one peace of advice when coming all this way, dont be a sheep and follow the flock!

Get a guided experience get shown real trails as well as those easy access trails by a Gondala or shuttle bus, this way you might get to the real trails and get good stuff.

Its the first thing I look up on an overseas trip, similar guides that ride like I want to, and take me too the best places no muss no fuss.

Btw awesome article some great trails above, again barley scratching the surface of what where the great trails are.
  • 1 0
 Just on your Dh comments thinking about this further, I really wonder what you did in your year here!

Ive hung out with WC riders and World Champions who feel our Taniwha track is WC level, same with certain tracks in QTown really sounds like you definitely did not ride the best of ? even the non locals only stuff.

Otown, does come down to what you may like, I hear this allot these days as well, I know riders who only ride man made stuff and thats not MTB to me even though I like it too, they dont play unless they only ride those trails, I search out gold, thats technical and back country natural, but enjoy playing on good stuff, Taupo is all man made, especially since the rebuild after the forest got decimated a few years back, but they have done a great job.

France may well have the most amazing terrain easily accessible, I myself like to take the old school approach of secret trails, but I do not share your attitude about not giving a F and regarding private property, that is short sighted dis-respectful gives mtb bikers a bad name is not bad ass or cool, its dumb and will come back and bite you in the arse sooner or later, Im all for covert stuff, but what happens in the field stays in the field, respect that and maybe you can enjoy it while it lasts, leave that attitude back where you come from as well as those stinky dirte cigarettes, bikers don't smoke, litter and screw up land access by being disrespectful, especially in another country, its a privilege to travel to live or let alone ride in another country, not a right!

I hope you bring the right attitude if you come back again, happy trails.
  • 1 1
 Well said Maverickdh00 ... Frenchy obviously didn't spend enough time in Rotorua to feel out the place Guided trips are the way to go !
  • 2 1
 Don't take the piss and chill out, that was just my opinion. The frenchy worked in a bike shop in Nelson Bay for 6 months and rode in Rotorua during that time. I guess my expectations were too damn high, I was expecting something else from the 2006 worlds host. QT on and off the park was just a terrific experience for me -I loved it. And I loved what Nelson has to offer as well.

Thing is you have to ride somewhere else to appreciate what you have at home. What you call DH tracks we call that an enduro track in Europe -the level of sarcasm is too damn high Big Grin . At the speed the top guys are shredding any track is world class that's for sure. I'm pretty sure rotovegas will get better in the next years, you have the right community for the job.

I was just pointing the fact that no place is better than others. I guess Shaun Palmer had a bad influence on me. Yes we don't give a f**k about riding on a private property since nothing has been done on it for ages -centuries sometimes lol. Chur bro, to respect the trails is better than don't giving a single damn but I'm no angel. But I fixed the messed I've done on the trails in NZ, I followed the rules like everyone else Wink .

And just to point out, NZ is the only place where I've seen so many smokers amongst the cyclists. I've found it funny -I don't smoke- tough.

Next time just say you have one of the best trails in the world, not the best Wink
  • 4 0
 Spent a month in NZ one summer in college...before I started riding. Definitely will have to make it back with my bike this time.
  • 2 0
 Spent two months there after graduating Uni doing nothing but riding. Someone buy my ticket and I'll show you all of the secret nugs!
  • 5 0
 Have to get there before I leave this earth
  • 4 0
 Its so fucking sick, trust me, Cannot wait to go back one day and ride, the riding scene has really took off recently !
  • 1 0
 we moved 2,5 years ago from germany to nz... best thing we ever did !!
we are living on the south island, 3,5 hours away from q-town (timaru) the rides are sooo bloody awesome !! quennstown during summer is the place to be !!! never met so nice people like kiwis... trust me, it's worth the lomg trip to come down !!
  • 1 0
 I started riding overseas, comments like this make me really want to move back home and shred these awesome trails I hear about!
  • 3 0
 Can't wait for them to get the gondola and new bike park done in Christchurch. I feel very lucky to live here and not run away after the quakes like many.
  • 1 1
 i was thinking about it a few days ago and new zealand is really amazing for MTB xc enduro downhill you name it... i mean i was wondering like... canada has whistler and mind blowing trails but new zealand its just below that ... and lets face it we dont know much about new zealand except for lord of rings was filmed there...
  • 1 0
 Rented a glory at vertigo bikes couple of years ago after some 15 years off the bike. Now Im hooked again. Just bought my ticket to the alps. Thanks Simon!!
  • 1 0
 Plan on working on my riding for a few more years then going to spend a season in whistler followed by a summer in new zealand. hopefully before i hit the big 40
  • 1 0
 ah... so near yet so far. The trails in singapore are not even one percent close.
  • 1 0
 I've been lusting after NZ for years.
  • 10 0
 Its amazing how us new zealanders love out track yet we still waaay rather go to whistler to ride, then there are you canadians who love your tracks but would love to ride in nz.. I guess the grass is allways greener on the other side! Smile
  • 4 0
 So true haha I'm a kiwi and in Whistler for my third summer just to ride. I
  • 2 0
 Thats sick! what do you think of whistler? compared to some of nz best bike parks? like it is a whole other level or something haha
  • 1 0
 RUDEROCK!!!!!! Its worth going just for that...sick
  • 1 0
 Where do I sign up? now where did I put that credit card!
  • 1 0
 I LOVE drum 'n' bass on mtb videos! Big Grin
  • 1 0
 This is a repeat post and in no way is that depressing.
  • 1 0
 Great video, very nice copter shots. Horrible music choice unfortunately.
  • 1 0
 Paradise, i agree !!
  • 2 4
 watermark/logo thing really detracts from the pics. how about just an outline next time, thatd be perfect

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