Throwing yourself down a hill on a bike dodging trees and obstacles can be great fun (if you don’t hit anything!) but understandably quite a daunting thing to start. Thankfully Auckland has some great spots for beginners to help build your confidence…
Woodhill – The largest and best known mountain biking spot in Auckland, just 40 mins drive from the CBD out west toward Muriwai. Has over 100km of tracks with something for everyone and you can rent bikes there. It’s a sand based forest which makes it great in winter and pretty dodgy in summer. Finishing a downhill run into a sandpit isn’t ideal…
Riverhead – As a clay based forest it’s the opposite of Woodhill, brilliant in summer, terrible in winter. Clay + water + bike isn’t a very safe combination. It’s free though, has 22 tracks, and for those who don’t like the whole uphill part there’s a van in summer that will take you up the hill for a small fee.
Totara Park – Proper place for beginners with 12km of gentle tracks, and some lovely views. Proof that Manuaka does have some rather nice parts, and if you’re feeling like a walk afterwards the beautiful Auckland Botanic Gardens are next door.
Arch Hill – Found this on a random walk from Great North Road. 3km of track through the bush, from easy to not so easy, and about as central as you’re going to get.
Hunua Ranges – Where your drinking water comes from, and a rival to the Waitakere’s for good quality bush within an hour of Auckland. Home to one of the toughest mountain biking tracks in the country but also some much easier tracks, and cool views over the reservoirs. On your way back worth making a quick stop at the Hunua Falls.
Also couple of honourable mentions outside of Auckland. The Redwoods in Rotorua are pretty stunning, awesome place to bike. It’s also possible to bike one of the Great Walks, the Heaphy Track, over the winter. I preferred to walk it but have heard good things.