Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike Rides Updates
Updates to 7th edition, published 2008
(See also: Updates to the 8th edition, published October 2011)
Heaphy Track opens May 2011
NZ Conservation Authority has approved the Kahurangi National Park Management Plan with mountain biking being trialed on the Heaphy, Flora Saddle to Barron Flat and the (full) Kill Devil tracks.
The Heaphy season is May through September - commencing May 2011. Flora Saddle and Kill Devil are year 'round.
Plenty are keen to see the trial fail, so message to the mtb community will be all about sticking to the rules: - keep to the (Heaphy) season - stay away in the big wet - DOC may close the track from time to time. - keep to the track - no exploring by bike - take your time - no single day blasts across the Heaphy - maximum group size of 6 - no night riding - no bikes in huts or under verandahs
More details will be posted as they become available.
Eastern Hutt Hills, Wellington
Paul rode this in mid-November 2010.
The northern end of the ECNZ Ridge 4WD track has been messed up due to logging, so it's not easy to exit via Stokes Valley.
From paragraph 3 in the route description things get messy - and are likely to continue changing as they log.
The "hump" has disappeared and is now covered in logging debris. If you are very lucky you might find it (Paul didn't). A GPS might help.
The escape route is to turn right on the main gravel forestry road (north) to Avro Road which pops out at the top of Blue Mountain Road (turn left to get to Silverstream).
The Sivyer Family Trust emailed this update, 12 June 2010:
Hi, you advertise this [Fisher Track] ride in your mountain bike book. I wish to inform you that contrary to you stating this road all on public road... it is NOT. It crosses our private land approx 8kms from National Park and we are closing it off. We will let mountain bikers through for a small fee. At this stage. We are not allowing quads, trail-bikes or 4x4s through.
Tongariro Forest Loop aka John Macdonald Loop
Barry Beaurain emailed this update, 14 Feb 2010:
The Tongariro forest loop aka John Macdonald Loop is being logged at the moment (February 2010) and apparently will be logged up to November 2010.
We spent about 2 hours trying to get around it, terrible bush whacking. You can get all the way to the end of Danahars Track (Now called Danahars Road and sign posted), but when you get to the end you cant go further. Cut down trees everywhere and really hard to climb over etc. dangerous too. The logging rig is set up about 1km before the old 4wd track turns into single track. Total waste of time at the moment. The 42nd Traverse is not affected by the logging though.
Mt Fitzgerald, Christchurch
"From Little River, follow the Port Levy Road and climb steeply for 1-2 hrs to the saddle..."
If you have an old Topomap 260 N36 Akaroa the road is called "Port Levy Road".
But if you have anything newer than that (including Google Maps) it's called "Western Valley Road".
Tarndale Slip, The East
In the notes we said: "The slip may become unrideable in future." Well... the future is now:
Photo: Paul Whitford, September 2009
The track across the top is at best 10cm wide – so not somewhere I was keen to go with a bike on my back and nothing either side of me but 500 metres of loose shingle cliff. Bit freaky walking on ground with cracks in it that could swallow your bike as well.
Aorangi Crossing, Wairarapa
Mount Thompson, Wellington
Mount Thompson on the Kapiti Coast (on page 144) is currently (May 2009) closed due to logging operations.
Whakamarina Track in Marlborough (on page 220) has the access on the Blenhiem side currently closed during weekdays due to logging operations. Access is OK during the weekends. And OK from the Canvastown end.
Nydia Track, Nelson
Slippery as snot in the wet, but still a bit of fun. Good condition when we last rode it in May 2009.
Opouri Saddle, Nelson
The DOC sign says it is 3km long. Jonathan's cycle computer says it is 4.5km.
Parapara Mountain Bike Tracks, Golden Bay
Now closed for logging. (May 2009)
Waoku Coach Road, Northland
Please be aware that the altitude graph for this ride is incorrect in the 7th Edition. It should show the ride to be 40 km long, not 25 km. Everything else in the write up is correct.
Wainuiomata MTB Park, Wellington
As at Aug 2009 there are some temporary signposts but no mapboards. However, they have finished the easy family track around the Wetlands Loop. It is 2.9 km long and a lot of fun.
Mount Lowry, Wellington
We rode this track during Easter 2009. It is about 6.5 km long, one way if you go down the Rata Ridge Track.
Skyline Track, Wellington
We have been doing a lot of work on this track and it is now 99.9% rideable. We have built cyclists cattlestops at most of the gates, so you can just ride on through. On a fine, calm day this is an awesome ride. On a windy day it is lousy.
Waiotauru Valley, Upper Hutt
Jonathan went down the valley in April 2009 and reports that it is in need of some TLC. Sections were becoming overgrown, and there is a new slip across the track near the Otaki Forks end that adds another 15 minutes bike carrying.
Bay of Plenty
We pulled this one from the guide book because of a huge storm that damaged much of track. DOC told us it was unlikely to ever be opened to mountain bike standard again, but in December 2008 three intrepid outdoorsmen 'rode' the track.
The Pakihi Track took them 5 hours and involved 1 hour and 26 minutes actual riding - the rest was walking! Most of the walking time involved negotiating winfalls. The worst section was just below the hut.
Who knows if the track will ever be worth riding again. At the beginning of 2009 it certainly isn't. Thanks to Jamie Quirk from DOC for the update.
Photo credit correction
The awesome photo was taken by James Madelin (not Madigan).
Whitford Forest, Auckland
A local emailed us to say:
There are many new awesome tracks now and I think you would love them.
Military Track, Bay of Plenty
We've had this report:
I can advise this is NOT rideable, all above the track has been logged and the debris has fallen down onto the track. We had to turn around and try some other parts of the ride. There may be a way to ride up a new logging road and bypass the military track altogether.
Te Iringa, Taupo
The distance to the real carpark is 6.5 km not 5 km. There is an informal carpark at 5km - don't be fooled by the track that heads up from it!
Mt Hikurangi, The East
Mt Hikurangi was featured in previous editions, but was dropped from the latest edition.
We've been advised by the managers of Mt Hikurangi that it is now closed to mountain bikers.
"The main reason for not allowing mountain biking on the mountain is Health and safety issues. And also the amount of emergency call outs we were making at our expense."
Richmond Trail, Tekapo
Near Godley Glacier on page 307
Simon Lawrence writes about a new ride near Tekapo:
FYI, there is a new ride in Tekapo which is a nice outing - the Richmond Trail. Leave Tekapo as per Godley Glacier ride [Page 307]. After about 30kms on the metaled road, hang a right up the ski-field road to the carpark 3kms up. Jump the fence and climb around 350 metres over 3kms until reaching a DoC sign. From here, with the wind at your back, follow the easy to spot orange markers all the way to down to Lilybank Road.
Most people would drive to the carpark, and then return to their vehicle. In fact, the best option would be to park to park where the track finishes (around 15kms along Lilybank Road) and ride from there. Because of Tekapo's famous nor'wester it would be better to use this as a warmup, rather than a torturous hike back to the car. This option would take 2-4 hours.
The track follows the Richmond Ranges for 14.7kms through classic tussock country. There are fantastic views of Mount Cook and the lake the whole way. I'd call this a grade 3+ because it is a fairly straightforward single track but contains 2 steep sections on the (long) downhill that some riders would find daunting. 2 stars.
Once back to Lilybank road ride the 15kms back to Tekapo.
Note: we don't haven't ridden this ride so can't vouch for it and don't know if it's legal.
Dunstan Trail, Otago
We describe this route from Dunedin to Alexandra. If you try doing it in the other direction, Matthew Stevens says you'll find navigation really hard. Here are a couple of grid references to help. From the Poolburn Reservoir cycle southeast on the Old Dunstan Road. Turn right onto a 4WD track at grid ref. 641 335 and bomb down to Linburn Runs Road. Then take the 4WD starting at grid ref. 664 326 down to Styx Patearoa Road.
Pulpit Rock, Dunedin
We didn't get a chance to ride Pulpit Rock during our 2008 research sessions and were going to pull it from the book, but hardcore locals talked us into keeping it in because "it's still a great hard core old-school adventure ride". We've now had this report:
...the tracks are overgrown and the roads have been upgraded so the guidebook directions don't work; the start of the track up Big Stream is completely covered by a mound of debris from road construction; the 4WD track from Big Stream to the ridge is covered in windfall and has to be mostly walked, and the 4WD ridge track to Pulpit Rock is extremely overgrown and hard to ride unless you like riding slowly crouched over the handlebars using your head as a battering ram through the trees.
In short I wouldn't recommend it...
Deer Park Heights, Queenstown
We've had word that Deer Park Heights no longer welcomes cyclists - bugger!