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Wellington is made for mountain bikers. The hilly, bush-clad landscape makes for exhilarating riding, and with 350km of mountain biking trails right on the city's doorstep, adventure is never far away. Our resident mountain biking experts share their favourites.
Enjoy the spectacular views of Wellington city at the start of this trail, which sits on top of Makara Peak at 400m above sea level. Trailbuilder Jeff, who knows a thing or two about trails, says,"this new flow trail descends in a whooping, hollering rollercoaster ride of berms and jumps and rollers. Continuing downhill into Ridgeline Extension, Big Tom’s Wheelie & Lazy Fern makes for an awesome 265 vertical metre descent from the Peak to the valley floor."
Former mountain biking Olympian, Rosara, has a soft spot for Deliverance. "It dives straight into a deep, dank gully of jungly native bush, with some steep rooty corners before the infamous rock garden, a jumble of rocks that presents different lines each time you ride it." After that prepare yourself for a precarious narrow trail criss-crossing a river and teetering around tricky corners and steep chutes. Enjoy 10 minutes of riding through jungle before emerging in a suburban cul-de-sac.
Long enough that it's worth the pedal up, but just tricky enough that it's hard to get a perfect run, Ben's favourite trail is an easier, all-weather alternative to the more challenging Spoonhill track. "491 (which deviates off Spoonhill) is always fun to ride fast and the perfect trail to try to hang onto your mate’s back wheel," says Ben.
Riding solo on gnarly trails sure is fun, but if you're looking for a family adventure, this trail is sure to impress. Russell loves riding this fast and exciting trail with his kids: "In this sweet little loop, you can take the whole family out and everyone gets stoked on riding. Awesome views and flowing lines. Get to the top and you can race down the Duel Slalom; your kids will think you are a god when you double out the rollers. And then it’s rinse/wash/repeat as you can do the whole thing again in less than 20 minutes."
Leisurely pedal to the summit of Mt Victoria and soak up the views of the city and harbour while you get yourself pumped for one of the toughest and fastest trails in Wellington. Mountain biking instructor, Rod Bardsley, gets a big thrill out of this trail: "It's a quick pedal off the top of the mountain and right into the thick of things with jumps, rollers, gaps, steeps, gnarly roots and drops where the mental and physical exhilaration puts me back on top of the world."
Originally built as a climbing track, Car Parts is a Wellington institution and also one of the few trails that you can drive to the top of. From the start of the trail with its 360º views of the CBD and the top of the South Island, you head into classic Wellington regenerative growth and head down a fast single-track. "There’s not too much tech but the speed and narrowness of the trail keep you firmly on your toes," says mountain biking enthusiast and photographer Caleb. "You can head back up single-track for another run or continue down to Aro Valley for a post-ride refreshment." The perfect reward following an exhilarating ride.
Want to lose yourself in nature only a few minutes from Wellington harbour? Try out Wainuiomata's Rata Ridge trail. While the trail is quite technical, the ride through the dense native forest makes it worth the challenge. World champ Jerome highly recommends this adventurous trail: "There's a great mixture of the challenging ridge, technical descents and so many different kinds of trees. Riding the trail gives you a taste of mountain biking at its best, and is definitely one to try".
This is one of Makara Peak's lesser known trails but one that should be on every rider's radar. Vertigo is a great way to get down from the summit and provides a great alternative to the North Face trail. "The steep, rutted chutes and 90º corners, varying size drops and a couple of fast open sections warm you up for a trip under the canopy, where the trail is occasionally disguised by the dark trees," describes Brett, Editor of cycling magazine Spoke. "Up next is the lower section which really tests your switchback skills. This section requires a delicate mix of balance and momentum in order to successfully clean each left/right sequence. "
If you're in the city and wanting to squeeze in a quick lunchtime ride, or take some beginners for a spin, Mt Victoria has got you covered. Just moments from the city you can hop on the ‘easy’ or ‘intermediate’ tracks. Mountain biker Simon reckons this is the ideal track for kids and often rides it with his daughter: "Highlights for my seven year old daughter and me include the Newtown to City track, skills area, Hataitai zig-zag and any of the smoother descents. There are big views of the city and a maze of tracks on Mt Vic, but it's actually a modest-sized hill, so you can't get lost for long." Mount Victoria once hosted a round of the UCI Mountain Biking World Cup - so it's as good as you'll find on the edge of a CBD anywhere.
Catering for a range of abilities, Borderline is fast and open, which makes a nice change from the tight trees and dense forestry that Wellington has in abundance. "There are some great inside lines to be had and a bunch of good jump options down the bottom" says trailbuilder Derek.
For detailed maps and information about Wellington's most popular mountain biking trails visit the Wellington Regional Trails website.