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Top 5 trails for mountain biking

With so many to choose from, it’s tough to name a top five! These are trails made with mountain bikers in mind. No matter your level or grade – from beginner, to confident, to fully-pro, you’ll find plenty here to keep you happy. Wellington is a mountain bikers’ paradise – there’s trails located close to the central city for a quick pre- or post-work ride, or drive 15-30 minutes to reach dedicated parks on the edge of the city.

1. Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park

A world-class park offering more than 40 mountain biking trails set amongst 250 hectares of spectacular native bush and birdlife, Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park is a destination for all mountain biking enthusiasts. The dedicated, expertly-designed tracks weave their way around Makara Peak and offer stunning 360-degree views from Kāpiti to the South Island. Descend all the way from the top on easy, intermediate or expert trails, or for a longer experience, link to Skyline or Wrights Hill trails.

2. Tunnel Gully Trails - Remutaka Cycle Trail

Nestled at the foot of Mount Climie, the Tunnel Gully Recreation Area is popular spot for mountain bikers. Named for its link with the historic Remutaka Railway between Wellington and the Wairarapa, Tunnel Gully features the 253m long Mangaroa Tunnel. Tunnel Gully has trails ranging from beginner to intermediate/advanced but all will be rewarded for your hard, uphill slog with great views of the Hutt Valley, Wellington and the Wairarapa.

3. Waiū Mountain Bike Park, Wainuiomata

Whether you’re new to mountain biking or on the hunt for a gut-busting uphill or technical downhill route, you’ll find your perfect expertly-crafted trail at Waiū Mountain Bike Park. With a growing network of over 18 trails for riders, you’ll have a ball exploring the wilderness of Wainuiomata, weaving through native bush and wetlands, crossing streams and taking in 360-degree views over the Hutt Valley and one of the best views of Wellington city.

4. Rangituhi / Colonial Knob

Te Ara a Rangituhi is a huge reserve set on 110 hectares of farmland slowly regenerating into native vegetation and features a network of trails through the western hills of Porirua. Ride trails like the Blaster – a downhill ‘blast’ through a challenging course of berms, tight switchbacks and tables, or the Chimney Sweep, a sweeping downhill trail with a chimney jump and other fun features. To get back to the top, take the easy uphill Te Ara Utiwai Track and enjoy some of the best views in the region. 

biking colonial knob Photo credit: Jay French

5. Polhill Reserve / Brooklyn Turbine / Te Kopahau Reserve

You’ll find plenty of trails to choose from at Polhill Reserve, from full-day rides to shorter stints. Riding along 4WD roads and narrow winding single tracks, you’ll cover varied terrain and landscapes in a short space of time. Climb to the top of the Brooklyn Wind Turbine and then choose your challenge: fly back down to Aro Valley, or for an adventure, descend on down to Red Rocks on the rugged South Coast, via Te Kopahau Reserve, to check out the views of the South Island and perhaps say ‘kia ora’ to the local seal colonies.