The grades of difficulty for mountain biking in New Zealand
As you’ll see from the descriptions below, there are varying difficulties for cycling trails in New Zealand. It’s important to assess your own fitness and ability before venturing on a bike trail, so you can find something either challenging enough or not too much of a mission.
- Grade 1 Easiest track with a smooth, flat surface, generally suitable for all ages
- Grade 2 Easy with some gentle climbs and avoidable obstacles like rocks
- Grade 3 Intermediate with steep hills and some avoidable obstacles
- Grade 4 Advanced level track with long steep sections, narrow tracks and obstacles you might have to ride over
- Grade 5 Expert is technically and physically challenging
- Grade 6 Extreme level is for people who know their shit. Possible manmade or natural jumps.
Learn more about exploring New Zealand by bike in Mountain Biking in New Zealand: A Complete Guide.
Cycling and mountain biking in Central Auckland
Central Auckland is well connected with cycle lanes and cycleways. A popular inner-city cycling destination is following the coastline to the beaches Okuhu Bay, Mission Bay and St Heliers Bay. Bike hire in Auckland Central is easy to find, as well as affordable guided bike tours with Power to the Pedal.For something more adventurous, you can find downhill fun within minutes of Auckland CBD at Arch Hill.
Arch Hill (Grade 2-5)
This is the closest mountain biking trails to the CBD and is easy to ride to. By bike, take the Great North Road, turn right at Turangi Road then left onto Ivanhoe then straight on Tay Street to the park entrance. There are 3km of trails to enjoy of varying difficulties.
Twin Streams Cycleway (west Auckland)
This is a good cycling destination if coming from Auckland city. The cycleway follows two streams, Opanuku Stream and Oratia Stream. The trails provide a great insight into the Auckland communities with art and sculptures made from recycled materials, as well as Maori meeting grounds (marae) and views of the Waitakere Ranges. Both stream cycleways are shared, but wide enough to easily avoid walkers. To get to the tracks by bike take the Northwestern Cycleway to the end and join the shared path at Te Atatu Interchange or Henderson Creek Bridge and follow the path to the stream entrances. This initial section to the Twin Streams Cycleway is about 17km from the city centre.
Opanuku Stream (Grade 1)
This first cycleway is 5km long between Great North Road and Henderson Valley Road. If you are looking for parking, the Corban Estate Arts Centre in the Corban winery makes a good entrance point. Make a stop at the “Moana the Eel”. You’ll know it when you see the 11-metre sculpture. Incidentally, it marks the entrance to a chain of reserves along the stream to explore. Take the Opanuku Art Bridge from Winery Way and pass various sculptures, mosaics and art posts. There are ponies in Henderson Valley Park cute, right? and awesome views of the Waitakere Ranges.
Oratia Stream (Grade 1)
This cycleway can be started from Henderson town centre at Millbrook Road Esplanade. Have a look at a bunch of community projects with sculptures made from recycled materials, such as the bulls at the Hart Domain and the Millbrook Edible Garden. You can also chill out in Parrs Park and see the Maori meeting grounds of Hoani Waititi Marae. The trail ends at Parrs Cross Road in Sunnyvale.
Mountain biking in West Auckland
If you are looking for something more adventurous than the Twin Streams Cycleway, try out these West Auckland MTB parks.
Beveridge Trail (Grade 1)
This is the only track you can cycle on in the Waitakere Ranges. The track goes between theArataki Visitor Centre and Titirangi on Exhibition Drive. The easy grade 12km track goes through native forest and has some great views along the way. Getting to the track takes about 25 minutes and you can park at the beginning of Exhibition Drive just off Woodland Park Road then cycle up Exhibition Drive to the start of the track. Cycling to the track would take about 1 hour from Auckland Central, although you can mix this up by taking the train to the New Lynn then cycling the rest of the way.
Woodhill (Grade 2-5)
This is the most popular bike park in the Auckland region with more than 100km of single tracks! All abilities can enjoy the variety of graded tracks all year round with the well-draining soil. There is even bike hire at Woodhill, as well as coffee and bike parts shop. You can either bus-it or drive to Woodhill, which is 40km (35-minute drive) from Auckland Central. Head west on State Highway 16 past Kumeu/Huapai and follow the signs to Helensville. Pass Waimauku and take Restall Road on the left. Follow the signs to Woodhill Bike Park from there.
Riverhead (Grade 2-5)
This mountain biking area is better known by the local mountain biking clubs as it is not well-signposted. There are two mountain biking areas in Riverhead, Old School and the WCRC Compound.
- Old School is best tackled in finer weather. Get there from the city by State Highway 16, right on Old North Road and right onto Ararimu Valley Road. Look out for Barlow Road to the right and park at the intersection. Ride to the bike park from there. The trip is about 40km.
- WCRC Compound (New School) is better maintained and has better drainage so can be enjoyed year-round. To get there take State Highway 16 and right on Old North Road. About 6km down this road you’ll see the entrance on the left. It is about 30km out of Auckland Central.
Cycling and Mountain biking in Manukau
Take an easy off-road coastal cycleway along the Manukau Harbour, or take the easygoing mountain bike trails by the Auckland Airport.
Runway MTB Park (Grade 2-4)
Take on the trails near the Auckland Airport on this mountain bike park including a pump track, which is mainly for beginners. The track is just behind the Airport Shopping Centre (with Warehouse and Countdown). It is quicker to drive there from Auckland Central but you can take the Sky Bus from the city to the airport then cycle a little way back to the shopping centre and bike trails.
Ambury Coastal Cycleway (Grade 1-2)
This cycleway provides some easy off-road cycling along the coast of the Manukau Harbour for just over 14km. Ride through regenerating native bush and take in the views of the sparkling waterfront. Start the cycleway from Ambury Regional Park. Cycling from Auckland Central to the park takes about 1 hour (16km) via Eden Road or Urban Route 4. Follow the routes past Onehunga and over the Mangere Bridge. Then follow the coastline to Ambury Regional Park.
Mountain biking in North Shore
Dart through the forest or take it easy along the coast on these North Shore bike trails. It is worth making your way to North Shore from Auckland Central if you have your own transport as the bus routes are pretty lengthy and too far to cycle to.
Sanders Reserve (Grade 1-4)
With around 20km of trails, you’re spoiled for choice in this mountain bike park situated with awesome views of the Waitemata Harbour. You’ll most likely want to drive to this bike park, west of Albany. Head north on State Highway 1 then take the exit at Greville Road. Drive through Albany heading towardsPaeremoremo. Turn ontoMerewhiwa Road and follow the signs from there.
Royal Albany Trail (Grade 2-5)
Something a little more technical with a good network of single tracks going through forest. There are more than 20km of trails to enjoy here giving you a worthwhile biking session. Get to the trails by heading north of State Highway 1 from Auckland Central. Exit at Greville Road and to the Albany Expressway. Take a left onto Bush Road, then left onto Bushlands Park Drive. Park here and ride on the 4WD track and look out for the trails on the right.Te Ara Tahuna Estuary Cycleway (Grade 1)This super easy cycleway in Orewa loops around the estuary on a shared cycleway. The route is 7.6km and should always be complemented with a trip to the beautiful Orewa Beach. Orewa is along the Hibiscus Coast Highway about a 30-minute drive north of Auckland Central.
Cycling and mountain biking on Waiheke Island
Hiring a bike on Waiheke Island is a popular way to get around the island, with bike hire available near the ferry terminal. There are a number of beaches to bike to and more, which you can read more about on our Waiheke Island Guide for Backpackers. There is also a small number of mountain biking trails at Rangihoua Hill.
Rangihoua Hill (Grade 1-4)
There are some quick single tracks, the longest being about 2km, to try out from easy to intermediate. There’s a mix of forest and open farmland to bike through. To get to Rangihoua Hill, take the ferry from Central Auckland to Waiheke Island then follow Ocean View Road. Once in Oneroa, take Surfdale Road, then Hamilton road, Miami Avenue and head towards Ostend over the causeway. Continue on Ostend Road to O’Brian Road and turn off at Onetangi Sports Park, which is where the mountain bike park entrance is.