You probably didn’t see too many Hobbits cruising round on mountain bikes in the Lord of the Rings, but let us assure you that that same gobsmacking scenery you’ve seen on the big screen is home to some of the best mountain bike terrain in the world!
New Zealand truly is a mountain biking mecca! No matter what level of action you are after, there are literally thousands of tracks, not to mention multiple purpose built mountain biking parks in New Zealand to suit any fitness level or technical ability.
You could literally bike from one end of New Zealand to the other, testament to that fact is the New Zealand Cycle Trail, a network of world class cycle trails. The New Zealand government has invested significantly in recent years to link the best trails in New Zealand together. However a campervan is still your best and most comfortable and flexible way to explore the best mountain biking action New Zealand has to offer. With a modern Wilderness Motorhome as your base, you have all the luxuries of a hotel, and all the flexibility to freedom camp out in the wild and stay where your mountain biking radar tells you to go! Your camper is mountain bike friendly and we also rent out our own mountain bikes.
Wilderness Motorhomes have bases in Christchurch and Auckland so you can either travel North to South, or South to North taking the Interislander ferry in between, or alternatively do two separate round trips in each island and fly between.
Along the way here's a little taste of some of New Zealand's mountain biking action - both for the leisure rider and the more extreme!
New Zealand’s Vegas of Mountain Biking - Rotorua, North Island.
If you had to choose one town which has become synonymous with mountain biking over the years it would be Rotorua. The Whakarewarewa Forest is home to dedicated and purpose built mountain bikes tracks galore, and you’ll find everyone from kids and weekend warriors on the family trails to the serious downhill riders and technical riders blasting away on the higher graded tracks. Ironically mountain biking is now worth five times more to the local community than the revenue generated from harvesting the renewable forest where the trails are located! Rotorua is New Zealand’s home of tourism so you can also check out a bunch of other tourist attractions during your down time.
Rail Trails – North and South
The Hauraki Rail Trail, North Island.
Linking the historical towns of Thames, Waihi and Te Aroha this is a nice flat easy ride with rural, river and mountainous outlooks. Shuttle operators help manage the trail and can get you back to your campervan at the end of the day if you want to head in a one way direction. A great place to start your adventure, only an hour and a bit from Wilderness Auckland base.
The Otago Central Rail Trail, South Island.
This is New Zealand’s original rail trail, located inland from Dunedin towards Queenstown. The Otago Rail trail links together the historic towns of Clyde, Alexandra and Middlemarch. This is some of the gob smacking desolate country you’ve seen on the Lord of the Rings, with ever-changing mountainous, dry and rocky landscapes, high country sheep stations, spectacular river gorges, tunnels, viaducts and more. Once again, link in with one of the shuttle operators to get you back to your campervan base at the end of the day.
Good food and fine wine by Bike!
Park up the camper and take in New Zealand’s best food and wine regions by bike! The Tasman Great Taste Cycle Trail at the top of the South Island is an easy cycling trail taking a leisurely tour of Tasman's most beautiful coastal and inland areas. Riders will pass vineyards, breweries, orchards with no end to places to stop and enjoy some quality cuisine. As a loop the trail is 174km long, but it can easily be broken down into bite sized portions just right for short morning rides and gentle afternoon cruises.
Explore further along the Classic New Zealand Wine Trail and stop off in the wine producing regions of Napier and Martinborough, once you've parked your camper up and want to indulge in a few vinos a bike is a great way to get around and explore the wineries which are often in close proximity to each other.
Lake Wanaka - The South Island's adventure capital
A great place to park up for a few days and enjoy the 500km of rides on offer is Lake Wanaka, single track rides like this one at Deans Bank or a family ride around the many lakes in the region, you choose!
Marara Peak, Wellington
The backdrop of New Zealand’s capital city Wellington is home to an award winning and purpose built bike park. The Makara Peak Bike Park is a unique project which blends together biking, walking and conservation. It is set in a convservation park of 250 hectares of bird filled regenerating native bush. You’ll find trails suiting everyone from beginners to intermediate, advanced and expert.
Bridge to Nowhere, Whanganui
This Central North Island gem is rated by many as the must do ride in New Zealand. The Bridge to Nowhere is located in the "valley of abandoned dreams" named after a failed attempt by World War 1 serviceman and their families to make a go of this area. Link up with operators including shuttle and jet boat transportation at each end of the ride to make the most of one of New Zealand’s best rides
Hopefully that gives you a little taste of what you might experience campervaning and biking New Zealand. If mountain biking is your thing and what you want to focus on as you explore New Zealand by camper, it is well worth check out the Kennet Brothers Books and online ride guides.