Wellington’s network of purpose built mountain bike trails is a perfect way to soak up the New Zealand outdoors and reinvigorate the body. Covering some 250 hectares, the Makara Peak Park area is situated between the cemetery and south Karori, and is only 15 minutes westward from Wellington central. Makara Peak offers riding for all levels, from a couple of leisurely hours for ‘newbies’ to whole day cycling (or walking) adventures for the more experienced, and plentiful fresh air and grand views of the city and surrounds.

Community and passion feature strongly in the history of this popular attraction: in 1998 the Wellington City Council set aside a portion of retired farmland in Kaori, southwest of Wellington, which was steadily shaped into today’s mountain bike park. By 2004, with the hard work of many volunteers and members of the Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park Supporters Inc., over 22 kilometres of hand-built cycling track had been created and an impressive 30,000 native seedlings planted. Thereafter, existing and growing trees and bush has combined with the high peaks and expansive views of the city, Cook Strait and the South Island to create this unique outdoor shared experience.

The park is free to use and open to both cyclists and pedestrians, the latter accounting for just under a third of the ‘traffic’. Test your ability and fitness on exciting downhill trails or take it easy on straight and gentles curved tracks. Easy tracks are available all year round; intermediate tracks have some sections of gravel, while expert tracks have none and are not recommended when conditions are wet.

Getting equipped is simple: all hire bikes are 24-speed front suspension equipped, with twin disc brakes, and available on site. Standard mountain bikes – with or without SPD pedals, are also available. Safety is a priority and bike helmets are included in the bike hire, which lasts for half a day or 4 hours. Other convenient services include bike transport to and from the city, touring trailers and racks and panniers.

The Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park has received awards from the New Zealand Recreation Association and two conservation awards from the New Zealand Department of Conservation in recognition for its successful merging of goals.

The park is jointly managed by the Wellington City Council and Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park Supporters Inc., and a five-year conservation plan involving the planting and nurturing of regenerative native bushland is underway.

Attracting over 100,000 bicyclists a year, there’s always adventure to be had and room for one more at Wellington’s most popular bike park.