Wānaka is a town that is world renowned for its skiing and has attracted people from all over the world. Spend more then a few months here however and you’ll soon come across a story that’s on repeat…..”I came for winter and stayed because of summer”.
What makes Wānaka unique is that there is a literal smorgasbord of world class mountain bike trails that go straight from town and are ridable for most of the year. Meaning the potential for skiing in the morning and riding bikes in the afternoon is an actual reality.
The area is over-flowing with options from purpose built trail centres, to community maintained single track. It doesn’t matter if you’re tentatively taking your first steps into the bike world, or if you’re a seasoned veteran used to ripping into the local hero dirt…
Story written by Leon Butler.
These two areas have been mainstays of the bike community in Wānaka, seeing generations of frothers learn their craft in the iron rich dirt. Bike Wānaka are the stewards of these free to use parks and keep the trails the well maintained with the help of the community. Lismore has recently been re-sculpted into an impressive jump park with lines to suite all abilities and a stunning lake view to match.
Sticky forest is one of those places that has the ability to get you hooked on mountain biking with trails like Kooza or GBH, but at the same time can kick your butt with the steeper, more technical trails like Carrot Cake and Sickest Boy. It’s also a place where the quest for a KOM becomes and obsession. A good starting point is ‘double gate’ where you’ll find a trail map and the start of a good choice of tracks.
Both are great places to go for a solo peddle as you’re likely to bump into a local who’s more than willing to show you the area.
Not too far away is b.social taproom & eatery which, as the name suggests, is a hotspot for post peddle beers and snacks.
If a more mellow cycle ride is desirable then Wānaka has plenty of tracks that follow the shores of the lake and rivers whilst providing a feeling of adventure and exploration. The Wānaka Tracks app is a great source of information for mini adventures in the area.
Heading into its fourth season, Bike Glendhu MTB Park in Glendhu Bay has quickly cemented itself as a place for progression, with a wide variety of trails including green loops for the beginners, flowing blues for the intermediate crew and techy blacks for the purists. Perhaps best known for its epic, iconic views from the summit Falcon’s Nest), Bike Glendhu is a mostly pedal-powered park designed to be shared by all those who are willing to earn it.
From the base area (Base 334), it’s a scenic 20-minute pedal up Kākāriki climb to access the lower mountain trails from Jack’s Spot. Be sure to try out Jairolla, a fan favourite trail, with its berms and small jumps. Or level up to Hare-Time for some bigger tables! From Jack’s Spot, you can choose to pedal up Switch It Up to the intermediate and advanced trails of the upper mountain, where tech, rock rolls and big jumps reign.
If pedalling isn’t your thing or you’re wanting to make things easier – including for the kids, book in a van shuttle or a Can-Am shuttle session and lap to your heart’s content, saving your legs along the way!
Events at Bike Glendhu are all about community. Women’s Ride Wednesdays are super popular, with female riders of all abilities coming together to skill share in an inclusive and supportive environment. Bike Glendhu is also home to signature events like the POC Glenduro and Midpoint Jump Jam, as well as late night riding at Pretty Sweet Thursdays.
And when it comes to looking after the environment the park has set detailed environmental goals which include solar energy initiatives, waste minimisation and management and a planting promise to put 30,000 natives in the ground by 2030.
The only chairlift accessed mountain bike centre in Wānaka, Cardrona has spent many years building formidable, downhill focussed trails that have a more technical flavour. Perfect for hitting larger jumps or weaving through steep and exposed trails it’s more for the intermediate to advanced rider.
Prospector is a blue trail with a good mix of tight berms and technical singletrack or if getting tires off the dirt is more your vibe then try the Mile High jump line.
The great thing about Cardrona is their coaching services, ideal for those wanting to take their riding to the next level but need a few nuggets of advice along the way.
Make sure to book the shuttle up from Cardona Hotel as at the end of the day there’s a fun singletrack from the resort back down to the pub where a nice cold beer is waiting.
The town has an array of well equipped bike shops, so if your needing to pick up a rental bike or if your trusty steed needs a tune up then head to Racers Edge, Outside sports or the Bike Lounge for all your bike requirements.