We have an awesome MTB scene here in Oz. With destinations like Derby, Cairns, Alice Springs and more going gangbusters, you'd be perfectly within your rights to never have to take your bike across the oceans - the riding here at home is fantastic!
But sometimes it's nice to try something a little different. And the closest international MTB destination we have could not be more different in terrain, trails and scenery! That's right, we're talking about our friendly, mountaineous neighbour to the south-east - New Zealand!
A few of the MTB Direct staff have been fortunate enough to get their shred on in New Zealand. Here's a few reasons why we can't get enough of the place!
Jacob - Alexandra
As part of the Trans NZ stage enduro race in 2018, we got the chance to ride out in the wide open and natural area of Alexandra among the thyme fields. Roughly an hours drive from Queenstown, it doesn't look like it has nearly as much elevation as you'd expect from the mountainous regions of the South Island.
What you can't tell from the top though, is that there's massive gorges all around! So one minute you're in this lovely exposed rocky terrain, then in two seconds flat you're pitched nearly vertical into loose pine needles and butt-puckering tech! It's such a crazy experience to have two complete extremes on the same trails.
To top it all off, you can ride down a crazy techy trail, cross a bridge over the gorgeous Clutha River, and arrive at the Montieths Brewery Bar - all good days on a bike should finish with a beer.
Mark - Queenstown
I spent 2 weeks shredding trails in Queenstown earlier this year, and wow - easily the best gravity riding I've ever experienced! The Skyline Bike Park town and the riding on Coronet Peak were definitely highlights. My fave trail overall had to be the descent from the top of Rude Rock down through Skippers Canyon - plenty of flow and unbelievably scenic!
Queenstown is set up perfectly for riding; it's easy to roll into town for a few brews after hitting up the Skyline bike park, and there's plenty of private shuttle operators to get you up to Coronet Peak, Alexandra, Cardrona and loads of other trails further off the beaten track.
Tim - Rotorua
Rotorua would be up there with one of my favourite spots to ride. Incredibly flowy trails with virtually no rocks (which is good and bad), but plenty of roots to keep things exciting. There's 2 zones; the area with the gondola that has plenty of fun DH/jump trails, and then the main Whakarewarewa Redwoods forest which has heaps more trails and an organised bus and trailer shuttle service (you can't shuttle in your own vehicle).
The Whakarewarewa forest is incredible in it's own right. Monster trees everywhere! The trail network has something for everyone from novices to pros. It's a big hill in there too and if you're willing to do a bit more pedalling you can access some amazing trails.
Kate - Queenstown
I loved Queenstown, though I was relatively new to riding then so I would likely appreciate it a lot more now. We mostly rode the local trails, all except one which we caught a bus to. The scenery is out of this world and the region has something for everyone in terms of trails, Helibiking, riding between wineries, coasting along the rail trail, amazing rivers and a heap of quality restaurants. Night life in town goes off too. NZ in general blew me away and I can't wait to go back!
Joel - Rotorua
I headed over to Rotorua with a group of mates for a week of riding. It seriously was my best riding experience to date. The variety and technical challenges of the trails was amazing, such a good range for all skill levels. The trail grading was spot on, blues were blue, blacks were black.
My favourite area had to be the Redwoods forest. We spent 5 solid days riding and still didn't get to experience all the trails in this time! We made use of the shuttle service and highly recommend this as there is a lot of climbing back up to the top each time. The locals were all super friendly and plenty of stuff to see and do in the town of Rotorua itself. It's the kind of place you come back from and start planning the return trip right away!
Do you want to experience NZ for yourself? We're giving away a trip for 2 to join Haka Tours on a South Island MTB adventure, so get your entry in today!