New Zealand has many MTB playgrounds on offer, with hundreds of trails surrounded
by epic scenery. From sandy surfaces to rock gardens, each location holds new surprises
Riders often ask us which island has the best riding – North or South. We love them both
of course! But if the terrain is new to you, or if you are short on time, our expert guides
can help you pick the best option.
North Island – Purpose-built paradise
The North Island has a fabulous network of trails, from the very top with the Waitangi
mountain bike site to the south with Wellington numerous single tracks, you will
experience a large variety of terrain. While the North Island is flatter: there will be less
big climbs and the downhills are generally shorter; the trails are still built with fun in
mind! There are tracks for all levels! Some might prefer a flowy grade 2 whilst others
will enjoy a more technical and steeper grade 4. There is always an option that will suit
each rider’s preferences.
South Island – Rooty, rocky and rowdy
Surrounded by the Southern Alps, the South Island trails have the famous mountain
scenery you have probably already seen looking at New Zealand pictures. With more
steep and exposed terrain, the South Island offers amazing natural trails. Including
longer climbs and harder downhills, the South Island will suit more advanced riders.
However, with our two guides, there is always the option to split the group and go for
an easier route. Furthermore you will also find in this part of the country some awesome
bike parks (like the Queenstown MTB Park or Christchruch Adventure Park). The South
Island has a variety of propose built trails and natural single tracks that will fulfill any
For a more detailed vision of the trail conditions you can check some of the accounts
from locals riders/builders below. As explained the North Island has more purpose
built trails :
But don’t get us wrong, the North Island has a big variety of tracks: long, short, steep,
technical or flowy; the different bike parks as well as the natural trails will have it all!
While the North Island has mainly sandy or gravely terrain the South Island has more
roots and rocks! It is wilder, rowdier and narrower! The natural tracks there reflect the
true essence of mountain biking:
With quite challenging terrain the South Island might suit more advanced riders, while
the North Island has trails for everyone. However at Haka Tours, it’s our goal to make
sure everyone finds a trail that suits his level. For either of the Islands though, it is better
to come prepared! If you haven’t checked it out yet, you can read a bit more about how
fit you need to be for a MTB trip here.
If you have more question about riding in New Zealand don’t hesitate to contact us!