Kaikoura is famous for the mountains to sea landscape, and offers an awesome variety of terrain for biking. The area boasts the highest peaks outside the Mount Cook region in the South Island (Mt Tapuae-o-Uenuku stands at 2885m) and the rugged coastline is legendary. The trails stay rideable year round with some exceptions depending on weather patterns. Weather conditions can change fast here so best to be prepared. Warm gear is a must.
Inland, the alpine village of Hanmer Springs has been a holiday destination for New Zealanders for generations. Surrounding Hanmer are vast forests offering over 50km of walking and mountain bike tracks to explore. In addition to the track network close to the village, there are numerous more difficult rides "over the back" of Jacks Pass, including the St James Cycleway.
North Canterbury Dirt Features
Hanmer Forest Trails
The trails in the Hanmer Forest are built by the Hanmer MTB Club and the best way to explore the network is to purchase one of their maps from the i-Site and Hanmer Adventure Centre. Proceeds go back to the Club.
The ever popular Dog Stream track and Woodland Walk are great beginner tracks and a perfect introduction to single track. Those looking for a challenge can spend a whole day exploring the trails. The Joliffe Saddle, Yankee Zephyr and Detox are fantastic technical rides and can easily be connected into a 20-odd kilometre loop ride.
The trails are accessed from the township via a very short road. Be sure to take some warm clothes, food and water and respect all closures.
Waipara Valley Vineyard Trail
Opened in Nov 2012 with an 8km loop starting from Glenmark Reserve, north of Waipara Village. The trail passes Sherwood Estate and Greystone Wines. Stage two is planned to incorporate Mountford Vineyard and Black Estate.
Only open since September 2019, the MiddleHill MTB park is 40kms North of Kaikoura by the Clarence River. Access is by shuttle with some serious vertical, various options for different abilities to come back down and super fun. Hosted by Genevieve and Morgan, bookings are essential so give them a ring or email before turning up.
Kowhai River Ride
Starting at the Mt Fyffe carpark, this easy going ride follows the true left of the Kowhai River. It’s a mixture of 4WD and purpose-built single track. The track departs the river and runs behind the golf course and Ocean Ridge subdivision parallel with the highway. It turns again crossing the highway into a prominent pine plantation for the final leg back to town.
Kaikoura Jump Park
This is a bit of a local secret, pop into Coastal Sports to find out more or have a poke around the pines on the south side of Scarborough St.
Mt Fyffe (One Dayer)
Mt Fyffe is a never-ending ‘smallest ring’ hill climb. The track is a maintained 4WD track to the Mt Fyffe Hut and then an open trail to the summit (1600m ASL). It is a solid climb with very little respite. The descent is not technical but very fast. Check your brakes have plenty of life in them first and be prepared for alpine conditions. You’ll find the Mt Fyffe carpark at the end of a stopbank running off Postmans Road (use a topo map on this one).
Mt Fyffe-Palmer (One Dayer)
Located at the end of Mt Fyffe Rd, the track initially climbs through farmland then turns into a technical single track through regenerative native bush. Once you reach a junction point in the forest turn left or right, it’s a loop that can be done either direction.
Half Moon Bay to Okiwi Bay (One Dayer)
This is a ‘hard work’ ride which can be made into a loop with 30mins ride on SH1. 20 minutes north of the town is the picturesque Half Moon Bay. Flanked by the Kaikoura Range and the Pacific Ocean there are plenty of exposed edges on the old forestry track. The grass in the middle of the track hides large rocks, hence sticking to the visible part of the track will no doubt save a buckled rim. The poor state of the 4WD track, with some areas severely rutted or rock strewn and a long steep climb make it ‘hard work’. So those that are suckers for punishment will love it. Be prepared for pushing or carrying your bike (up to 50%). If the going gets though there is a way out: Half way up head off to your left to Seaward Valley and loop back to your car on SH1. Been there, done that! Allow enough time.
Where to Stay in North Canterbury
Kakapo Lodge - Hamner Springs
A minute's walk from the village centre, this cosy hostel with views of the Southern Alps is also a 6-minute walk from the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools & Spa. Basic mixed-gender and single-sex dorms have shared bathrooms. Private rooms are available, and some provide linens and en suite facilities.
Amenities include a communal kitchen/dining room, and a lounge with a fireplace, in addition to decks, and a courtyard with a BBQ area. Parking and Wi-Fi are offered, as are guest laundry facilities and bike storage.
Ph: +64 3 315 7472
Address: 14 Amuri Avenue, Hanmer Springs 7334