While areas such as Rotorua and Queenstown are well known in the mountain bike scene, Christchurch is pretty sweet in its own right – Haka Tours offer bike trips around the country and have ridden most of the trails out there so we figured they’d be pretty qualified when it came to picking their top reasons why Christchurch should definitely be on your trail radar…
There are trails for everyone
From the seaside XC loops at Bottle Lake Forest to the pine forest downhill trails in Vic Park, the trails in Christchurch are so varied, mountain bikers of all kinds will be satisfied. The options for beginners include flat and slightly undulating terrain at Bottle Lake Forest and McLeans Island. Both of these venues have hand-built single-track with small natural features, perfect for learning.
All-mountain riders will be in heaven with hundreds of kilometers of trail to choose from along the Port Hills. To the east, there’s Godly Head and Sumner, which together boast open tussock hills, superb ocean views, technical rock gardens, hand-built boardwalks, and the super popular berm bliss “Anaconda” track.
Moving west in the Port Hills, adrenaline junkies will find Victoria Park, or “Vic Park” to locals. Here, there are intermediate trails with built-up features like wall rides, drops and jumps on tracks including Sesame Street, Shazzas, and Dazzas.
Moving further west along the Port Hills is the famous Flying Nun track, an intermediate roller coaster of a trail, with heaps of hand-built rock berms and poppy jumps. And for the true DH rider, there’s an actual selection of downhill gnar back in Vic Park: road gaps, boulder gardens, 40-foot hucks, and more. Trials like Nationals and Tilted Sally will have you grateful you brought your full-face helmet and pads!
The weather is always right
Christchurch is located in the eastern plains on the South Island of New Zealand. This area is known for its dry, sunny climate. It’s rarely too hot in the summer, with an average of just 22 degrees. The winter days are cold and crisp with morning frost, but not often wet. The winter average high is around 10 degrees, warm enough to still get a pedal in.
Christchurch receives approximately 620mm of rainfall per year, around half of Wellington or Auckland. This makes for dependable track conditions- frequently dusty! – But nearly always open.
The Port Hills aren’t for the faint of heart up or down. The ride up popular farm roads like Rapaki Track and Old Bowenvale will get your heart pumping and legs aching to the tune of around 450 meters.
And if the ripping descents alone aren’t worth it to you, the views will be. Hilltops such as Mount Pleasant (Sumner), Mount Vernon (Port Hills), and Marley’s Hill (Flying Nun) boast phenomenal views of the Pacific Ocean, Christchurch city and Pegasus Bay, Lyttelton Harbour, and the impressive Southern Alps.
A traipse up to the Sugarloaf Scenic Reserve tower will provide 360 degree views of the entire breathtaking area.
It’s the gateway to the South Island
The tracks in Christchurch will give you enough to smile about for days, if not weeks. But if it’s adventure you’re after, Christchurch is the perfect place to start. After ripping it up in town, a 2-hour drive north will get you to Hanmer Springs; a small, family oriented holiday community with dozens of hand-built MTB trails for the family or serious rider.
A 2-hour drive west from Christchurch will get you to the utterly jaw-dropping Craigieburn Forest. The trails here are a “10” for epic, with the aptly named “Edge” which traverses along a mountain-side scree slope, giving the rider a seriously on-the-edge feel!
Craigieburn’s most popular trail is called The Luge, a root infested joyride down from the ridgeline to the valley, full of jumps and drops and slippery, skiddy smiles. It’s a must do. Longer drives from centrally-located Christchurch will take you to mountain bike meccas such as Nelson, Queenstown, and Dunedin.
Just make sure that after you arrive at Christchurch’s International Airport, that you spend a few days enjoying the local trails first!
Let’s be honest. One of the most satisfying things about any mountain bike adventure is hashing it out with your crew after the ride. Nothing is more disappointing than finding out there’s no pub within riding distance after you’ve finished!
Not to worry. Christchurch not only has several pubs in riding distance, but with 20+ brewers in the city, it’s a town that takes craft beer seriously. Cassels and Sons Brewery in Woolston, a 10-minute pedal from the Port Hills, or 15 minutes from Sumner, boasts their own beer and local lesser-known craft brews on tap, great coffee, and killer pizza.
There’s a bike shop across the street, so you can stock up on spares or splurge on new gear while you’re at it! Other great post-ride spots include Clink in Sumner- a lovely restaurant with outdoor seating that happily hosts muddy mountain bikers, or Protocol Public House- a buzzing pub located literally at the bottom of shuttle road, Dyers Pass.
No matter where you choose to re-hydrate in Christchurch, you can be certain you won’t be the only cyclist in the joint.
The mountain bike park
The best has been saved for last. In December 2016, Christchurch will open its 20 million dollar, 900-acre Adventure Park, located just 5 kilometers from the city centre- in the Port Hills. The park will be a 365 day per year, lift assisted mountain biking destination. It will boast hundreds of kilometers of hand-built trails of all levels, as well as lodging, rentals, a bar and restaurant, zipline, mountain coaster, and more.
It will be the first four-season MTB park with lift access in the world! This park, in addition to the established mountain bike scene, will solidify Christchurch as an absolute mountain bike paradise!
Don’t forget – Haka Tours take’s in the absolute best of Christchurch and the South Island on their epic MTB Tours.