Ōtautahi Christchurch Is Flat Right? Wrong. Just Ask The Mountain Bikers.
Forget what you’ve heard about Ōtautahi Christchurch being flat – it’s a lie. And if there was an ideal season to explore the mountain bike trails across the vast city, spring is that time. The weather’s warming, the flowers are blooming and the ground’s drying out. Epic.
Ride through a forest, tear down the Port Hills, or test your fitness with an uphill climb. From absolute novice to full throttle expert, there’s plenty on offer. Check it out.
Perfect for the beginner mountain biker, McLeans Forest has 10 green trails to build your two-wheeled confidence. Running along the Waimakariri River behind Christchurch Airport, Macleans Island is a forest reserve with winding tree-lined trails. Trail lengths suit any fitness level, from less than 1km to 9km. The most popular trail is the 4.4km Coringa loop with a gentle slope.
Difficulty: Super Easy
Bottle Lake Forest Park
Bottle Lake’s walking and biking trails cut through an extensive pine plantation 15 minutes north of the CBD. It’s a working forest so trails regularly change as trees are planted or harvested creating little surprises for regular riders. The six green trails create a 10km inner loop and a 16-19km outer loop. A regular spot for families with kids or those wanting to build their fitness with some laps through the forest.
Christchurch Adventure Park
This has put Christchurch on the riding map with 44 trails and year-round lift assisted riding. There are rides for every ability level from super flowy green trails to technical double blacks. The Loess Rider trail is a favourite of all skill levels, allowing beginners to gain confidence in their turns or advanced rides to go full tilt. The Park also has gear hire, lessons and a café for a bite and a pint of local craft beer.
Difficulty: Easy to Expert
Crocodile Cross Country (XC) MTB Park Trail
Crocodile has a fun little trail system in Halswell Quarry, perfect to advance your skill set. Beginners will find eight comfortable green trails to explore and intermediate to advanced riders have 17 trails to play with. There are even a few black diamond runs for more expert riders. The system is spread over the hill side, so you’ll be running on pedal power for short uphill climbs on some tracks.
Difficulty: Easy to Advanced
Christchurch’s original home of downhill riding. In Vic Park you’ll find 70 trails across diverse landscapes; forest, dark jungle, dust, rocks, mud, and jumps – it’s all there. A typical route takes you up Rapaki and along the Bowenvale Traverse before you drop into Vic Park. If you can’t be faffed with the climb, drive to the Summit Road car park and you’ll be spoiled for choice of routes to take down. Mix it up with different trails and be sure to hit local favourite Sesame Street.
Difficulty: Intermediate to Expert
Port Hills East
From Heathcote Valley to Godley Head, the eastern Port Hills boast 28 trails, linking up to create epic sweeping routes along the hills. The most popular of these is the Sumner to Godley Head Loop combining intense climbs with free-flowing downhill, all with city-to-sea views. Another popular route runs up Rapaki, east along Summit Road and up Broadleaf Lane to Greenwood Park. Head downhill to Captain Thomas Track and the longest descent in the Port Hills.
Difficulty: Intermediate to Advanced
Port Hills West
Trails in the western Port Hills are some of the most popular for uphill climbs. Rapaki Track is shared with walkers and is solid climb – 333m over 3.6kms. Huntsbury Track in the valley over is a 190m climb and gives easy access to the Bowenvale Traverse taking you to Vic Park and the Christchurch Adventure Park. Both trails connect with Summit Road to head east to the trails around Sumner.
Difficulty: Easy to Intermediate