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Ride Trip: We ride Rotorua and 440 Bike Park - North Island, New Zealand

In March 2020 we set out on a quick ride trip to New Zealand's north island with Rotorua our main focus - we squeaked the trip in before things escalated with the current Corona Virus and right after crankworks ended (the perfect time for quiet trails) consider this an itinerary with some of our experiences to make it easy if your looking to do something similar in the future!


Photo: Sam Routledge @samroutledgephoto

Day 1 - FourFourty Mountain Bike Park, Auckland:
440 MTB Park is a shuttle driven bike park with as the name suggests 440m of overall elevation - there is trails from green right up to double black, the park has done a lot of work over recent months and had a tarmac pump track installed - a XL jump line & progressive jump lines to finish off once you drop out of the tree line -

Photo: Sam Routledge @samroutledgephoto

- 440 has a balance of machine cut and natural terrain with plenty of forks to link up different lines from top to bottom, we knocked out 10-12 laps on day one.
A highlight at 440 was the descent from above the shuttle drop off (Climbing involved) a 10 minute peddle that gives you a panoramic view over the surrounding area, perfect photo opportunity followed by a 5-10 minute natural EWS style decent through the native pines named "Dozer" link this up to the intermediate jump line, then back to the base for an absolute dream run. 
This place is a must visit and to be honest was the highlight of our NZ trip.
We were lucky enough to link up with a bunch of fellow Aussies this day and we all said it was the highlight of our trip.
Finishing off the day make sure your Rotorua accommodation know you'll be arriving late. It's around a 2.5 hour drive to the north.

Photo: Sam Routledge @samroutledgephoto // Photo: Arturo Izurieta @arturo.izurieta

Check out FourForty bike park (Auckland) with following links:
440 Website: http://www.fourfortymtbpark.co.nz/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FourfortyMountainBikePark/

Packing essentials:
The weather can turn on a dime in NZ although they have had a bunch of very dry summers in the north, it's likely you will get rained on at some point during your trip - take some cool weather gear and a waterproof ride jacket for riding in - also your general ride apparel with spare gear in case things get muddy, the Redwoods is a public area and is open year round (when the world isn't in lockdown)
Rotorua can be hard on your bike and gear - on average there is about a 30% mark up on Aussie prices around town for tyres and bike parts.
Bring some spares, your little tool kit and general ride gear. It can chew your tyres too, so a spare universal tyre may also save you some cash.


Photo: Arturo Izurieta @arturo.izurieta

Kiwi dollars:
The NZ dollar is on par with the AUS dollar.
Our neighbours (mostly) accept Visa and Mastercard. We didn't need any cash all trip long however grab some kiwi dollars on arrival for a bail out of need be, you never know when it's your shout or you need to purchase a spare tube off another rider. 

Day 2 - Redwoods, Rotorua: 
Rise early and build up your bikes, throw the kettle on and fuel up for BIG day of peddling and finding your bearings in the Redwoods forest. We would recommend spending at the very least 3 days (at least) in the Redwoods to get the full experience - take your camel back for day 1 with snacks as you'll be a long way from home.

Photo : Sam Shillingford @sambo.shillo

Redwoods Tip:
The Redwoods trail network is quite a massive area to cover (take a look on Trail forks) it is not really possible to see the whole park in a day, so break your days up and plan your days with a bit of an area you are going to attack first, There has been a few EWS Enduro events held in the redwoods of years past and some real bucket list trails you have to ride. As always try to befriend a local if your going to peddle a lot. It can get confusing and easy to get lost. There is water stations in the Redwoods by the shuttle pick up point & throughout the park, also some fresh water streams you can fill your bottle up at - Temp toilets at the bottom of the "hot X buns" trail and the base Carpark. Take a bottle and some snacks as its around a 10km (base to shuttle and back) or 5km one way trip back to the car park from shuttle point, also be sure to pack a spare tube, tire leavers & pump for a big day of bikes in the forest. **Also it is FREE to ride in the redwoods forest as it is a national park - however would definitely recommend the uplifts.

Buying Shuttle Passes:
Take some cash or your Eftpos card. The shuttle driver carries a bag of uplift cards and an Eftpos machine - you can buy 5 uplifts up to 50 starting from around $40 Kiwi dollars.


Photo : Sam Shillingford @sambo.shillo

Redwoods Parking:
There are a few options for where is the best area to park to access the Redwoods trails.
We found the general car park (Ride Rotorua Office) bike centre to be the easiest point to access the shuttles and the best place for the Redwoods experience.
A simple ride down past the timber mill then up hill road is the most direct way to access the shuttle (it leaves from the centre of the park) or if you are looking to use your legs and experience the woods, take the long way in you'll end up up near the shuttle point - the shuttle service 100% doesn't have to be used but you'll be in for some serious peddling if you want to ride the Unique Redwoods trails.

Day 2 Continued.. As mentioned take your first day in the Redwoods to try and get an understanding of the trails - Day 2 we peddled up direct road and checked out a few easy climb trails that link you into the bottom of "hot X buns" trail, there is a map at this point, you can either head up or across to the shuttle pick up point. Our first few days in the Redwoods we ticked off a bunch of the trails from the top of the Shuttle drop off point, Huckleberry, Corners, linking into G-Rock or Moana trails *keep an eye out for some of the illegal Gnar forking off these* - Areas of the park have been recently forested, around half way down the general shuttle descents were a little blown out once coming out of the tree line - not to worry once you understand the place better your be linking up all sorts of trails to get back down to the pick up point.
Save some energy for the peddle out, it is day one of peddling after all! We clocked up 60km with 3 uplifts on day 1.


The redwoods is unique for its amazing dirt and beautiful pine forest's - the natives up the very top are unlike anything you will see, this is where our favourite trails were found.

Day 3 - Redwoods forest, Rotorua:
Today is the day to get a bit creative, you've likely rode the 3 or 4 trails from the top of the shuttle drop off.
Today we would suggest riding up to Tihi O Tawa, a 10 Minute climb above the shuttle drop off, straight up the fire road - This is a natural technical trail that boasts raw roots, off camber and some big ruts. This drops you into the end of Billy T then down to shuttle pick up point, by now you should get the point about if you put in a little more effort in the Redwoods you'll get a lot of grins in return.
Other trails you must ride are Katore, Billy T (from the top) the DH trail (make sure you do a few laps of this to understand it) Once you link up all the features on the DH trail it is seriously fun and not too gnar for the trail bikes. The hard part is riding everything a few times so you can really hook in, The grade 5-6 (black) trails are technical and should be sighted before going in hot, there was some serious drops and tree gaps that you wouldn't want to get wrong.

Must ride in the Redwoods:
Katore (EWS), Rocky Horror, Granny, Billy T, Tihi o tawa (EWS) , moana, eagle vs shark, tortunie, hot X buns, K2 (EWS), National DH track, pussy filter (if your into vertical shoots with off camber roots, if you can ride this without sliding on your butt we will buy you a beer) And plenty more.....

Perfect Bike for the trip:
E BIKE? but seriously we chatted about this a lot during the climbs, the locals talk a lot about getting up to get down and this is pretty true with the setup at redwoods. The bike - any trail bike will handle it 140 - 170mm travel and a 29er ideal for the jenky roots and blow holes.

Rainbow Mountain hot springs - epic trails and plenty of beautiful sights.

Day 4 - Rainbow mountain & Skyline bike park, Rotorua:
Change of scenery - today is an adventure ride, hot Springs and bike park day.
Do your research and look up Rainbow Mountain, it is a beautiful beast around 20mins out of Rotorua, Surrounded by sulphur lakes and hot springs it's a must see while during the trip. 
Rainbow Mountain (pack a pair of board shorts or bathers for the hot springs) You will climb to the summit then DESCEND (on your bike) it's around a 10k round trip, and you'll likely do some pushing on your way up to the summit. It took us 1 hour to climb with some view stops along the way.
Track 4 takes you to the top (climb) a shared walking trail/climb trail with 360 views of the area and all the way to the ocean on a clear day.
Track 5 (descend) is the descend trail and bikes only, a grade 4-5 natural gnar trail that is fast and fun - if your a little less confident, slow things down and you'll handle it no worries.
At the bottom there is a car park where you will likely hear a stream running across the parking lot. head over and take a look, the creek is heated by a natural hot spring with waterfalls in the trees.
Jump in and have a dip, the locals tell us the creek runs at around 40 degrees year round and is run off from a local underground hot spring.
Riding back to the car park around 3km along a reasonably flat single trail/fire road route marked with MTB signposts.
As mentioned this is about a 10k round loop, give yourself 4 or so hours to get there and back from town Inc. Activities.
If your up for it, head back towards Rotorua, the other side of town is Skyline bike park.
Skyline Bike park is a bit of a novelty while in Roto, it isn't a huge bike park with surprisingly little elevation nestled into the pines. The park is fun with plenty of trails to keep you busy for hours - our recommendation is many laps of "Mr. BLACK" a intermediate jump line with table tops everywhere - Link it into "BYO" for some puckering and frothy times.

Day 5 - Redwoods forest, Rotorua:
Day 3 in the Pine forest will have you searching for illegal trails and party lapping the good stuff with your mates. 
On your ride back to the car park, be sure to stop in at the @secretspotrotorua hot pools along mill road, it's free and epic with safe MTB parking just inside the gate. Park up for a few beers with your crew while relaxing your feet in the hot tubs. 
Pretty easy way to finish each day in the redwoods - if your crew are way fitter then you, let them know you'll skip last runs and meet them at the secret spot, post ride.


Secret Spot Rotorua - hot pools with surrounding gardens and lagers on tap, the perfect spot to finish off the day.

Our thoughts:
Rotorua was probably not as spectacular as Derby or Queenstown but the place really is a Mountain bikers paradise - once you reach the Redwoods.
Dinner: Eat street is a hot spot, it's a market like restaurant and bar area in the centre of town (by the lake) with every cuisine you could desire also a couple small brewery's on eat street to keep the daily yarns in check. We struggled to find a great coffee spot but there must be a few good places for a morning brew.

Bike shops: 
Bike Culture Limitedspecialising in boutique builds and are Santa cruz dealers, We had a few little mechanicals that required a mechanic and the team sorted us out with great service - These guys are the original MTB shop in Rotorua.
EVO Bikes (giant dealer, good range of accessories and workshop) 
Cyclezone Rotorua (large shop with bikes apparel and accessories for anything you've left behind)

The Redwoods has trails for all abilities and what we have mentioned above is for the intermediate Enduro style rider. 
We clocked up on average 50km on the bike each day in the Redwoods, however a far easier 50k then our home trail network with nicely built flowy ups.
5 days is all you need, with a 3 hour drive back to Auckland airport, there is also an airport in Rotorua if you are wanting a more express option, this will mean you miss 440mtbpark but if times not on your side, this may be an option. 

Handy grabs we found during our trip (Instagram) check them out before booking your next trip to roto.
Rotorua Trail Trust @rotoruatrailtrust
Skyline Bike Park @Skylinerotoruamtb
Mountain bike Rotorua @Mountainbikerotorua
Bike culture Rotorua @bike_culture_rotorua
Secret Spot Hot tubs @secretspotrotorua
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