When it comes to mountain biking in Hawke’s Bay, there’s so many tracks to explore that you will leave exhausted and exhilarated.
There’s no way you will leave disappointed.
In fact, far from it, when there’s over 100 kilometres of trails at Eskdale Mountain Bike Park, Te Mata Peak and CHB.
Hawke’s Bay can easily claim to be the cycling capital of New Zealand catering for all types of on-road and off-track riding.
The Eskdale Mountain Bike Park, just 10 minutes drive north of Napier, is the home of the Hawke’s Bay Mountain Bike club. To explore the park you need to purchase a ‘visitor’ permit, which are available online or local bike shops, visitor info centres and the nearby Bayview 4 Square shop.
Once at the park, you have an exhaustive range of trails to get your knobby tires rolling over.
There’s something for everyone in the 100km network of trails, with purpose-built downhill, cross-country, freeride tracks and gentle rolling trails connected by a backbone of wide, smooth forestry roads. With a variety of trails ranging from Grade 1-5, there is riding for all abilities here.
With trail names such as Kamikaze, Cannonball Lector, Hi-Roller, Wish U were here and Grand Traverse, you know you’re in for an action packed, bum numbing time. For most of the year the clay/dirt trails are combed with pine needles giving you hard, dry and fast-flowing single tracks.
Eskdale is broken town in to 4 blocks over about 1200 hectares of park:
Waipunga (206ha); approx 19km trails
Replanted (210ha); approx 9km trails – lots more trails planned
Mill (290ha); approx 30km trails – lots more trails planned
Pakuratahi Valley (560ha) – 1 DH track
The new Mill Block has over 33km of modern MTB trails with more to be built. The Pakuratahi DH Track is in a separate block that cannot be accessed from the rest of the park, but only via Pakuratahi Valley Road, off SH2.
With 290m of elevation at the highest peak allows tremendous views across the Bay and plenty of scope for a huge variety of trails, still with 60km of purpose-built cross-country, freeride and downhill trails, plus over 55km of quiet forestry roads and 4×4 tracks to cater for all levels of rider ability – from the novice beginner through to the experienced professional.
The park is generously provided by Pan Pac Forest Ltd and it’s important to check prior to riding which parts of the park you can access on the day.
Regardless you won’t be disappointed, there’s sweeping berms, rolling and well groomed … jumps galore and leg burning switchback climbs.
At the top of the park are some of the most stunning views of the Bay providing views across to Mahia Peninsula, Napier Hill, Cape Kidnappers and Te Mata Peak.
Must do trails
2. Grand Traverse
4. High roller
Pan Pac Eskdale MTB Park is best accessed from Napier. Napier has its own airport and this is the best way to access the area directly from Auckland. Napier is a two-hour drive from Taupo (142km) and a three-hour drive from Gisborne (215km). Napier is a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Palmerston North (177km). The trails begin 16km from Napier township (10 minute's drive). Pan Pac Eskdale MTB Park has 4 carparks with the majority of users accessing either the Tait Rd carpark or the Mill Block carpark, both found off State Highway 2 just north of the Napier-Taupo Road turnoff.
Please note: You'll need a permit to ride in this privately owned working forest. See our Insider Tips above to locate where you can get these from.
For more information on Eskdale visit Hawke's Bay Mountain Bike Club
Te Mata Peak Park
Te Mata Peak, set 399 metres above Havelock North offers well established trails and you can guarantee that your legs will be burning on the climbs and your eyes popping on the fast descents. Te Mata Peak Park is open to walkers, runners, unleashed dogs and riders, so make sure you stick to the MTB trails.
You can start riding from in Havelock North village, following a web of trails to the Tauroa Road carpark or you can drive to the carpark and start exploring. You can also ride or drive up Te Mata Peak Road and then hit the trails.
A must do is to ride right to the top (the trig station) where you have 360 views of Hawke’s Bay. From here take in the sights of the coast (Waimarama & Ocean Beach), Te Awanga, Napier Hill, Mahia, Ruahine & Kaweka Ranges, as well as Mount Ruapehu.
Keep an eye out for new trails within the park as well as from the village.
For map trails and latest information visit www.tematapark.co.nz
The Park is open to the public free of charge
Havelock North has two cycle shops as well as many hospitality options, accommodation and retail offerings.
A walking track along an old logging route at the base of the Ruahine Forest Park is open for mountain bikers as well. This track starts from the end of Wakarara Road (you need to cross the river to start the ride), which is approx 86km from Hastings.
Yeomans Track goes along to Ellis Hut (also known as Murderer’s Hut) on the edge of the PanPac Gwavas Forest, where you either return back the same way, or can follow a couple forestry roads back to the river – you will need either a topomap, or the Kennetts MTB book for these road directions. (Average riders – allow at least 1 hour each way) (For ‘hot shots’ – allow at least 45 minutes in & 30 minutes return)
Ranui Farm Park – private farm with mountain bike trails
Ranui Farm Park is a working sheep and beef farm owned and operated by the Ennor family which has some mountain bike trails. It’s open from September to May on the first Sunday of each month (9am - 3pm). Enjoy a mountain bike ride over rolling hills and through native bush on purpose built tracks and farmland or run or walk if that’s more to your liking.
As well as bike trails its also a fun family day out with petting zoo, 70 metre water slide, 80 metre flying fox, archery, paintball targets, golf-pitch and chip, home-style cafe.
There is a large playground for the kids to enjoy including a sandpit, which will keep them amused for as long as you need and accommodation available throughout the year.
Eftpos available. Adults $10, Under 18's $5, Under 1 y/o free. 785 Nicholls Road, Waipukurau (15 minutes from, town).
HBRC MTB Park in Waipukurau – This is currently under development
To keep an eye on when it is due to open visit www.hawkesbaymtb.co.nz
Find out more
For track information at Pan Pac Eskdale MTB Park visit hawkesbaymtb.co.nz.