The Bay of Islands is situated in the stunning North Eastern part of New Zealand’s north island, one of the most spectacular spots in the country. Famed for it’s epic secluded bay, the bay of Islands consist of 150 or so islands.
Tourists flock to the region and for good reason, there are some rad activities on offer but there’s one place in particular that’s a must for anyone with even an incline for the two-wheeled thrills and spills and that’s mountain biking Waitangi.
I arrived in Auckland after a quick 2 ½ hour flight from Sydney. Rushing through customers to collecting our camper van which was to be our home for the next 5 weeks.
First stop heading north was to check out the surfing in Piha. Up there with Raglan, Piha has to be one of the most famous spots on the north island and had been on my shopping list for a while.
I was expecting a busy town packed to the rafters with every kind of visitor imaginable but it was an awesome chilled place. Right at the end of the road is a dramatic rock out in the front of the beach known as Lion’s Rock. There are some super fun left handers breaking in the south end of the bay and some quality peaks up the beach to the north.
For grabbing a bit to eat post surf or for dinner you can’t go wrong with Piha Cafe. They do wicked pizzas and have some great beers to wash it down. What more do you need.
After a quick stint in Piha we headed back through the winding scenic road to join back up with highway 1 and bolt it up north. It’s pretty easy getting around NZ. Starring out the window it’s hard not to feel time-warped back to a prehistoric era with such spectacular flora and fauna landscape.
The main town in the Bay of Islands is Paihia. The hub so to speak for any of the aquatic tours heading out to the other islands and a perfect place to stay.
Just 3km from the centre of Paihia lies the Waitangi Endowment Forest. Go to the end of town along the waterfront and cross the narrow bridge following the road around and you can’t miss the car park to the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park.
The MTB park consists of 65km world class trails. Built by the legendary Jeff Carter / Southstar trails who built some epic trails in Roturua’s Whakarewarewa forest like Eagle vs Shark.
WMBP has some seriously good flow trails and loads of variety. The park has a decent mix of runs from Grades 2-5 (Easy to Advanced) . A favorite of mine would have to be the magic carpet. You do actually feel like your flying going around this ridiculously fun track. The Kahotea Loop and Hua Link are a must. I could have spent days playing around in there.
It’s super easy getting around Waitangi. The trail network is clearly signed posted and hat’s off to the builders and local crew for doing one hell of a job.
There are more trails coming soon with a sneaky extension to the network. Be shore to check out the expansion of this absolute world class mountain bike park on Trailforks.
Spotting dolphins in the Bay Islands is great but biking around Waitangi park is better, I promise you that 😉
The guys in Paihia have a ‘register to ride’ scheme of $25 which goes into maintaining the park. Plus you get some killer discounts for places around town.
Full suspension bikes can be rented by full, half or multi days at Paihia Mountain Bike Rentals. The rental shop is the closest shop to the park. Run by Jonny who is a fountain of knowledge about where to go in the park. He’ll give you advice on other must do things in town and the surrounding area.
One of the best places to stay near the park is Waitangi Holiday Park right on the river at the south end of town and 15 minutes walk into the town centre. Wake up to the sun coming up over the water.
Charlottes Kitchen, Ruffinnos Pizza, Kebabulicious and Legends Restaurant are great places for a feed in town. Whare Waka Cafe is fantastic for lunch midway through riding and is very close by the park just on the treaty grounds in Waitangi.
There are some decent bars to check out in Paihia. Try Charlottes Kitchen, Alongside and Rayz on the Bay good for a drink afterwards.
If you come all this way you can’t go without heading to the Ngawha Hot Springs for a soak afterwards. Only 20 minutes drive from Paihia.
Photos courtesy of Paihia Mountain Bike Rentals
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