First stop was Taupo, well known for its Ironman and the Lake Taupo Cycle Challenge events, but also a spot that boasts world class mountain biking trails, with something for every level of rider.
The trails in the Taupo area are managed by Bike Taupo, a not-for-profit organisation that was accredited as an International Mountain Biking Association (IMBA) Silver Level Ride Centre in 2012. Taupo is the only IMBA Ride Centre in New Zealand, which just goes to show the quality and variety of mountain biking trails they have on offer.
I decided to ride Craters MTB Park, as I had not been there in about two years. Craters is located 10 minutes’ drive north of Taupo, in Wairakei Forest. You must be a member of Bike Taupo to ride there – for visitors a one week ‘membership’ is just $10 and you can pick one up from any of the local bike shops.
The park offers a huge amount of trails and after spending a few hours weaving around and up and down I had barely scratched the surface. There are fun, flowy trails as well as challenging climbs.
My favourite trail was Coaster, which is a pretty smooth and wide downhill track with bermed corners and tables that you can just roll over or get some air over, depending on your speed and skill. Tourist Trap is a great warm up to start with and SH Fun is, as the name suggests, fun…especially for beginners or intermediate riders who want to ride it fast.
There’s great signage on all the trails which makes it easy to get around and it was cool to see the support Bike Taupo has from local businesses, who’ve sponsored the track signs. The main car park has good facilities, including a sheltered area with a map board and new toilets. A volunteer security patrol vehicle drove through while I was there, making sure vehicles were safe.
If you’re thinking about a mountain biking trip in the North Island, whether it’s with the family or a group of buddies, Taupo is definitely a must-do destination. Plus, the lake is great for a (chilly) dip after your ride.
Head north from Taupo on the Thermal Explorer Highway. Take a left turn onto Karapiti Road. The main car park is 500m on the left.
Need mountain bike hire for the park? We’ve got some great options. Head to our website to see our full range.
Check out Craters MTB Park here.