The Grades of Difficulty for Biking in New Zealand
As you’ll see from the descriptions below, there are varying difficulties for cycling trails in New Zealand. In Hawke’s Bay, most of the trails are easy, however, some of the downhill mountain biking tracks are designed for the experienced mountain biker.
- 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.
Water Ride (Grade 1-2)
Ride with the sea breeze on your face on this easy 96km loop. The Water Ride showcases the best of Hawke’s Bay’s seaside towns.You can start anywhere on this loop. A good place to do such a thing, which is easy enough to find, is the Napier i-SITE. Start riding north towards the bustling seaside town of Ahuriri then onwards to Bay View and Westshore areas of town. Next, ride up past the airport to the Ahuriri Estuary. Look out for birds in this wetland sanctuary. From here, you can make a shorter loop by returning to the Napier i-SITE. Alternatively, head to Church Road and along the Tutaekuri River to Puketapu. From there you can return down the opposite side of the river, which emerges at the Horseshoe Wetland. Then enjoy the Pacific Ocean view as you take the coastal trail through Awatoto and eventually back to the Napier i-SITE.
See what to do in Napier in our Napier – Guide for Backpackers.
Landscapes Ride (Grades 1-3)
As the name suggests, the Landscapes Ride encompasses all those famous Hawke’s Bay natural sights. See the largest mainland colony of gannets on the impressive cliffs of Cape Kidnappers. Then catch a glimpse of what’s been voted one of the world’s 50 top golf courses. Plus, a trip is not complete in Hawke’s Bay without going to the top of Te Mata Peak.
The 56km Landscapes Ride can be started at the Havelock North i-SITE. If you’re feeling fit, you can bike up to Te Mata Peak, which also has a mountain bike track. However you enjoy the ride back down, you’ll merge back onto the easy section of the trail by taking River Road. Follow the river downstream to Black Bridge then Haumoana to Te Awanga then Clifton. From Scotsman Beach at Clifton, you can access Cape Kidnappers by walking along the beach at low tide, which could take about 5 hours-return to walk to the gannet colony and back if you are taking it easy. There are some commercial operators who can whiz you down the beach and back in a vehicle if you are strapped for time.
From Clifton, take the cycle trail inland up the Tuki Tuki River from Black Bridge to Red Bridge. The trail gives awesome views of Te Mata Peak and across vineyards. Finally, you will return to River Road and can follow the road back to where you started in Havelock North.
Wineries Ride (Grades 1-2)
Take a step up from backpacker bar crawls and feel slightly more sophisticated by doing a winery crawl by bike. Hawke’s Bay is one of New Zealand’s top wine-producing regions so there’s only one way to see what all the fuss is about: taste the wines!
Start anywhere on this 47km loop track, which is completely off-road. The trails cover the areas of Bridge Pa, Gimblett Gravels and the Ngatarawa Triangle. As well as stopping at wineries, you’ll cycle through the tree-lined Oak Avenue in Hastings and along the Ngaruroro River.
iWay (grade 1-2)
In an attempt to get more people on their bike, the local council has set up a pretty neat cycle network in and around Hastings. Getting to Clive on the coast to the Tuki Tuki River or Te Mata Peak couldn’t be easier by bike.
Following the iWay leads you to places like the world-famous-in-New-Zealand Rush Munro Ice Cream, the Farmers’ Market (on Sundays) or the water park Splash Planet (summers only). The iWay also makes a good connection between the Water Ride, Landscapes Ride and Wineries Ride.
If you need a place to stay in Hastings, check 6 Best Backpacker Hostels in Napier and Hastings.
Mountain Bike Parks in Hawke’s Bay
Yes, Hawke’s Bay has a reputation for being easy breezy. However, it still has its adventurous side in the form of downhill mountain biking.
Pan Pac Eskdale Mountain Bike Park (Grades 1-6)
With more than 100kmof tracks, this makes Pan Pacone of New Zealand’s largest mountain bike parks. The MTB park is set in the productive working Pan Pac Tangoio Forest and is divided into five different sections. Whatever level you are, there are trails to suit and not only a few, but heaps of trails to keep you exploring all day. Organise transport and bike hire for the Eskdale Mountain Bike Park here.
Taradale Dirt Park and Pump Track (Grades 1-3)
This is a small beginner to intermediate dirt jump park which is free to use. It is located beside the Pettigrew Green Arena in Taradale.
Napier Pump Track (Grades 1-5)
Suitable for all abilities, this jump track is free to use and has an all-weather surface. You can ride multiple laps of this park without pedalling but just pumping with your arms and momentum. The Napier Pump Track is located on Marine Parade next to the Rotary Pathway.
Te Mata Peak (Grades 3-4)
From the top of Te Mata Peak, there is a big sign saying “Mountain Bike Track” so you can miss it! It eventually leads onto a shared path so be careful of walkers. The track is about 2km and takes about 6 minutes to ride.