Cycle Trails in Palmerston North and Manawatu
Palmerston North and the surrounding region is a playground for two-wheel fun! Hire a bike from Palmerston North city and hop on your own adventure, whether it’s a quiet ride alongside the Manawatu River or for downhill thrills one of the many mountain bike trails! Check out all the best cycle trails in Palmerston North and where to go mountain biking in Palmerston North in this guide to cycling in Manawatu!
Palmerston North is a bustling North Island city between Wellington and Taupo. There are loads to unpack in the city with museums, nearby adventure activities, and surrounding it is some of the best rural scenery in the country. You’ll definitely want to stay awhile so book into one of the affordable Palmerston North accommodations and check out more things to do in our 15 Free & Cheap Things to Do in Palmerston North.
The Grades of Difficulty for Travelling 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
- 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.
For more information on cycling in New Zealand, take a look at Mountain Biking in New Zealand: A Complete Guide.
Cycle Trails in Palmerston North
Manawatu Riverside Pathway (Grade 1-2)
This 10km sealed pathway is a shared pathway taking in the views alongside the Manawatu River in Palmerston North. You’ll pass rose gardens, aviaries, bush walks, barbecue facilities, picnic areas and more. There are several access points to the Manawatu Riverside Pathway, the most accessible being Riverside Drive, Ruahine Street, Albert Street, Centennial Drive, The Victoria Esplanade, Dittmer Drive and Maxwells Line.
Turitea Loop Track (Grade 3)
Another fantastic riding option from Palmerston North, the Turitea Loop Track starts from Summerhill Drive and Old West Road. Either ride or drive to Summerhill Drive and over the Fitzherbert Bridge. Park your car on the gravel section before the Old West Road turn-off. Ride right onto Old West Road then left onto Turitea Road which you follow down to the bridge then right where you continue on a gravel road. Then make your way onto Kahuterawa Road which meets up with Old West Road. From here you can return to where you started on Summerhill Drive. The ride takes 1-2 hours to complete.
Mountain Bike Parks in Palmerston North
Arapuke Forest Park (Grade 2-5)
Palmerston North’s mountain bike park is made up of a wide range of trails from beginner tracks to advanced. Access is via the end of Kahuterawa Road and at the car park on Scotts Road. Beginners can enjoy the Jack Frost trail. Otherwise, there are six grade 3 trails, six grade 4 trails and one grade 5. There are projects to add to the park all of the time so keep an eye out!
Mountain Bike Tracks in Manawatu
These are the downhill mountain biking tracks found in the surrounding Palmerston North area known as the Manawatu district.
Te Ara O Mahurangi (Grade 4)
In the Manawatu Gorge, this advanced mountain bike trail is ridden downhill only through native forest on this steep, technical yet fun track. Either park at the Bridge Cafe and ride 1.6km up Hall Block Road to the start of the 2km track, or riders can be dropped off at the beginning of the track at the turning bay on Hall Block Road.
Takapari Road (Grade 4-5)
This is a mountain biking road that should be on the bucket list of any serious rider! Takapari Road is just off the Pohangina Valley East Road and climbs high into the Ruahine Ranges. It’s likely that you will have to ride to as far as your legs will take you as the road is generally only suitable for 4WD vehicles. The ride ascends to over 1100m which will provide awesome views.
Kohitere Trig (Grade 3-4)
The Kohitere Forest in Levin is one of the best downhill mountain biking spots in the Manawatu area. Enjoy several intermediate to advanced mountain bike tracks through exotic forest. From the car park at the end of Denton Road, take your bike over a stile and steadily climb a gravel road where you’ll find several downhill trails branching off. For more things to check out in Levin, see 10 Fun Things to Do in Levin.
Long Mountain Bike Rides in Manawatu
Windfarm Ride (Grade 3-4)
Mix scenery and downhill thrills in the Windfarm Ride. Ride below towering wind turbines on a mix of sealed roads, gravel roads and single downhill trails. Start from Palmerston North and head down Fitzherbert Avenue, over the bridge to Summerhill Drive. The road turns into Aokautere Drive, then turn right onto the Pahiatau Track. Ride for about 8km then turn left onto North Grange Road. The road is 18km with a fun mix of gravel road downhills and wind turbines. You’ll reach Hall Block Road where you can take the Te Ara o Mahurangi mountain bike track down to the Bridge Cafe (see above).
Multi-Day Cycle Trails in Palmerston North and Manawatu
Manawatu Cycleway (Grade 4)
This 115km one-way journey weaves its way between Mangaweka and Palmerston North, incorporating the major scenic and historic highlights on the Manawatu district. The 2-3 day trail follows the Manawatu Scenic Route taking quiet backcountry roads. The highlights of the trail include Mangaweka, the Ruahine Road, Main South Road, the Totara Reserve, Raumai Reserve, Ashhurst and ends in Palmerston North.
Day Cycle Trails Around Palmerston North and Manawatu
Mangahao Dams (Grade 2-3)
The Mangahao Dams near Shannon provides some excellent mountain biking for beginners, taking about 2-5 hours to ride depending on how much you do. Start the trails from Mangahao Road at the reserve car park near the powerhouse. First, enjoy a 7-8km gentle uphill climb on a gravel road to the first dam. Then there’s a couple of downhills giving you a full 8km back to the car park. To make the ride longer, head to second and third dams and make your way back the same way. Check out more awesome activities in Shannon in our 5 Fun Things to Do in Shannon.
Fielding to Pohangina Valley Loop (Grade 3)
This 78km ride takes in the stunning scenery of the Pohangina Valley and the Totara Reserve with some of the oldest last remaining forest in the area. The ride starts at ends in the town of Feilding, taking you onto Colyton Road then Pohangina Valley East Road (there are lots to see and do on this road, which you can learn more about in 14 Best Things to Do in the Pohangina Valley). You return to Fielding via the Totara Reserve and the Pohangina Valley East Road. For more things to discover in Feiling, take a look at 7 Fun Things to Do in Feilding.