The Best Bike Trails in New Zealand for Kids
Cycling might be an uninspired family outing but in New Zealand, where there’s mesmerising scenery combined with easy-going off-road cycle trails, bike rides are at a whole new level! We’ve picked out some of the best family bike rides in New Zealand that you can do with even your youngest. The trails are easy but exciting, ranging from swift rides to multi-day adventures.
While you’re here, you might also like to plan more of your New Zealand trip using The Travel Guide to New Zealand for Families.
1. Dunes Trail – Motu Trails
This gently undulating trail crosses compact gravel tracks, boardwalks and bridges to make an easy bike ride for families. Ride over the dunes alongside Hikuwai Beach with plenty of reasons to stop off to visit the beach, admire Maori artwork and have a picnic. The Dunes Trail is 10km (6.2 miles) one way with plenty of transport and bike hire options in the area to get you started. Learn more about the Dunes Trail in our guide, The 3 Motu Trails.
Location: Snell Road, Opotiki, Bay of Plenty, North Island.
2. Karangahake Gorge – Hauraki Rail Trail
Get the kids’ imaginations running with a half-day ride into Karangahake Gorge from Waikino Station. See the remains of the area’s gold mining at the Victoria Battery, get a photo with the cascading Owharoa Falls, and ride through a 1km (0.6-mile) long railway tunnel! This ride is approximately 6km (3.7 miles) along the multi-day Hauraki Rail Trail. Alternatively, start from Waihi to make it a 24km (14.9-mile) day out ideal with older kids.
Location: Waikino Station, 33 Cadman Street, Waikino, Waikato North Island.
3. Nelson to Mapua – Great Taste Trail
This easy 26km (16-mile) day section of the Great Taste Trail in Nelson is a fantastic family bike ride on the South Island. Ride from Nelson Airport to the wildlife wonderland of the Waimea Estuary before heading to the coast of Rabbit Island with forest trails and sandy beaches – the perfect place for a picnic! From the end of Rabbit Island, catch the ferry to Mapua village where you’ll be able to indulge in its cafes and fish and chips and be picked up by your cycle hire/transport company. See more activities in the area in the 10 Things to Do in Nelson with Kids.
Location: Nelson Airport, Nelson, Nelson Tasman, South Island.
4. Frankton Arm Walkway
A family-friendly ride in Queenstown, the Frankton Arm Walkway is also a wide and flat cycle trail between the picturesque Queenstown Gardens and the suburb of Frankton. Ride on the shores of Lake Wakatipu with a mountain backdrop and stop by the multiple benches and jetties for a rest. The 12km (7.5-mile) ride takes approximately two hours to complete. Check out more experiences nearby in the 10 Things to Do in Queenstown with Kids.
Location: Queenstown Gardens, Park Street, Queenstown, Otago, South Island.
5. Whakarewarewa Redwoods Forest
The go-to in Rotorua for kids on wheels is the Whakarewarewa Redwoods Forest. The easy-to-intermediate bike trails in what is known as the “Inner Core Network” of this huge mountain bike park is a fun and easy introduction to mountain biking. Families will love the Kids Loop, Tahi and Dipper trails, while older kids might want to tackle Creek Track or Challenge Mini Network. With trails linking up nicely, you can ride as much or as little as you want. Check out the 10 Best Bike Trails in Rotorua for more trails, as well as the 10 Things to Do in Rotorua with Kids for more activities.
Location: Long Mile Road, Rotorua, Bay of Plenty, North Island.
6. Lion’s Walk – Great Lake Walkway
With boardwalks and asphalt specially designed for the cycle races that take place in the bike-crazed town of Taupo, the Lion’s Walk along the Great Lake Walkway is where kids of all ages can join in on the fun. On a clear day, enjoy views of the Central North Island volcanoes across the lake. There are sculptures, coffee and ice cream trucks, swimming spots, children’s playgrounds and more to keep the little ones interested. The entire trail is 10km (6 miles) one way. Plus, find more activities in the 10 Things to Do in Taupo with Kids.
Location: Lake Terrace, Taupo, Waikato, North Island.
7. Taylor River Trail
This easy-going trail in Blenheim is a must for families. Follow the scenic Taylor River along a 2.5km (1.6-mile) trail until you reach the Taylor Dam. Either return the way you came or continue onto the Wither Hills Mountain Bike Park with its own series of kid-friendly one-way mountain bike trails.
Location: State Highway 1, Blenheim, Marlborough, South Island.
8. Otago Central Rail Trail
If you’re looking for a grand adventure with the kids, then set your sights on the Otago Central Rail Trail. The most family-friendly multi-day bike trail in New Zealand, the 152km (94-mile) trail features swimming stops, playgrounds, historic gold mining relics, railway tunnels, bridges and plenty of food stops to entice you. See how you can do sections of the trail for a shorter ride in the 5 Best Bike Trails in Alexandra & Clyde. Plus, plan more of your trip here with the 9 Things to Do in Alexandra & Clyde with Kids.
Location: Albert Drive or State Highway 8, Clyde, Otago, South Island.
9. West Coast Wilderness Trail
With only one hill that might have you pushing your bike, the West Coast Wilderness Trail is another family bike ride in New Zealand that’s suitable for a multi-day excursion. Most of the ride is flat and smooth, retracing old packhorse tracks, tramlines, railways, water races and historic bridges. Enjoy views of the Southern Alps and the Tasman Sea along the way, as well as stops by the West Coast’s quirky towns. The trail is 136km (84.5 miles) but day rides are easy to organise. See fun activities to combine your ride with in the 10 Things to Do in Greymouth with Kids.
Location: Greymouth Railway Station, Greymouth, West Coast, South Island.
10. Waikareao Estuary Loop
Finally, in the city of Tauranga, don’t miss the Waikareao Estuary Loop with its boardwalks and bridges ensuring a smooth ride for all ages. The 9km (5.6-mile) loop circumvents an estuary where it’s common to spot birdlife such as herons, kingfishers, pied stilts and much more. As you’re in the city, you’re never too far from a decent cafe to break up the trip. And, as always, more stuff to do can be found in the 10 Things to Do in Tauranga with Kids.
Location: Coach Drive, Tauranga, Bay of Plenty, North Island.