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Hurunui Cycling Trails

The sub-alpine and alpine terrain make Hanmer Springs the ultimate destination for the avid biker. A broad variety of flat forest to rugged alpine tracks will keep the cycling enthusiast occupied for hours.

Easy Rider

A non-technical track linking to other trails within the forest - suitable for the whole family.

Track distance: 4km
Start location: Hanmer Forest Entrance

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Flax Gulley and Swoop

Explore the trails around the back of Conical Hill. The tracks include Flax Gulley, Swoop and Majuba, which can be linked together for a more comprehensive and heart pumping ride.

Track distance: 1.45km & 2km
Start location: Hanmer Forest Entrance

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Jacks and Jollies Backcountry Gravel Road Loop

The track circumnavigates Mt Isobel. Large portions of the tracks are up hill (to 800 meters high at Jacks Pass). During the winter month’s parts of the track may be covered in snow. There are a couple of options for the descent.

Track distance: 25km loop
Start location: Jacks Pass Road

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Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail

An easy gradient trail suitable for families with safe quiet roads and off-road trails. Cycle the picturesque vineyards of the Waipara region. Pass historic farms and take in the views across the valley to the main divide.

Start location: Glenmark Reserve.

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Yankee Zephyr and Red Rock

Rocky terrain and amazing views can be found on the challenging routes - the tracks are rated expert.
Check with the local i-SITE before departing to obtain a track map and information on possible track closures.

Track distance: 2km & 1.4km.

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The St James Cycle Trail

The St James Cycle Trail is a 64km cycleway generally taking 1-2 days to complete depending on fitness levels. The track is well signposted with blue markers at regular intervals to guide cyclists on their way. For easy to intermediate riders it’s advised to stick to the beginning and ends of the track. The beginning and ends of the track still provide the challenge of traversing mountain passes and river valleys. The central section of the track is rated grade 4 and caters for the more advanced mountain biker due to the remote terrain, river crossing and bike carrying required in some sections.

What you need to know

Best time to ride: November to April.
Fitness: Reasonable – no exit/access points along the track.
Gear: A good mountain bike is a must
Duration: 1-2 days
Car-parking: Parking is available at the Mailing Pass entrance and St James Homestead.

The St James track is made up of four sections of similar lengths:

Section 1 - Maling Car Park Waiau
Section 2 – Waiau 4WD Road End – Saddle Spur Bridge
Section 3 – Saddle Spur Bridge – Scotties Hut
Section 4 – Scotties Hut – St James Homestead

Section 1 – Maling Car Park - Waiau 4WD Road End

Following the 4WD track the trail slowly gains altitude towards Maling Pass. Once at the top it’s a steep descent negotiating numerous ditches that cross the track through alpine meadows and beech forest crossing bubbling streams to Waiau valley. Once in the valley the trail levels out. It’s important to note that Maling Pass is the best place to turn back if you have any doubts about your ability to complete the trail.

Duration: 12km – 60-90 mins
Grade: 3

Section 2 – Waiau 4WD Road End – Saddle Spur Bridge

The first third of this section is purpose-built cycle track. The trail traverses the hillside to the left of the Waiau River before arriving onto the wide river terraces at the junction with Lake Guyon track (the 1km detour to the picturesque lake is well worth it). The trail continues on old stock tracks down the Waiau valley over grassy river flats and passing Little Lake and Muddy Lake before arriving at Saddle Spur Bridge. Be sure to look out for the St James wild horses on this section of the track.

Duration: 15.5km – 2hrs 30mins
Grade: 3

Section 3 – Saddle Spur Bridge – Scotties Hut

This section is the most challenging with rocky, uneven tracks, steep climbs, tough descent and a giant matagouri forest to contend with. The trail crosses Saddle Spur to reach Pool Hut. Once across McArthur Bridge an old farm track travels up a series of terraces before the step climb to Charlie’s Saddle. After the descent wade across Edwards River to arrive for a well-deserved rest at Scotties Hut.

Duration: 14.5km – 3 hours
Climb: +240 metres

Section 4 – Scotties Hut – St James Homestead

The 4WD track up the Edwards Valley is mainly smooth although occasionally interrupted by short expanses of rocky riverbed. Be sure to look out for the side-track that takes you to Cow Steam hot pool. The short 1km detour is well worth it to soak aching muscles. Once revitalised depart for the last big climb on the trail – Peters Pass (900m). The trail departs the 4WD track for an easy downhill run through Peters Valley to the St James Homestead.

Duration: 17km – 2hrs 30mins
Grade: 2-3

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