Our favorite cycle trails in Wanaka
With more and more people developing an interest in recreational cycling, listing the best trail rides for varying skill sets and different bicycles is essential. The best bike trails offer picturesque scenery and varying difficulty levels to challenge veteran cyclists or inspire beginners.
Lake Wanaka has many bike trails that lie in proximity to the lake. Whether you have a mountain bike or a road bike, a cyclist can find the perfect place for a ride in Wanaka.
1. Hawea River Track – Mountain Bike Trail
The Hawea River Track is an excellent mountain bike trail that is twelve kilometres and appropriate for all ages and levels of cycling experience. The northern start of the course is Domain Road in Lake Hawea township, and the southern end is the Albert Town Recreational Reserve. For most bikers, the trip will last one to two hours.
Many cafes, restaurants, and parks line the end of the trail, so planning for a snack or picnic post-ride helps create a fun and relaxing day. Or, riders can simply take in the scenic views of Lake Wanaka. The Hawea River Track is a popular trail, so watch for other bikers and hikers who are travelling along the path.
2. Newcastle and Upper Clutha River Track Loop – Mountain Bike Trail
The Newcastle and Upper Clutha River Track is a loop track that is best for mountain bikes. The loop is about thirty-five kilometres long. The trail offers beautiful views of the Clutha River and is excellent for cyclists looking for a longer ride.
As you traverse the path, keep an eye out for old gold mining shafts!
Portions of the Upper Clutha River track are shared with walkers and hikers; however, hikers will rarely extend this trek around the Newcastle loop. Parts of this trail has hills, so some experience before beginning your sojourn will be helpful.
3. Glendhu Bay Track – Mountain Bike Trail
The Glendhu Bay Track is about fifteen kilometres and starts with a section of hills and drops that can be thrilling for experienced or veteran mountain bikers. While the steepest sections are short, they may prove challenging for beginner bikers. Hikers are also allowed on the path, so look ahead to ensure the safety of all.
After one to two hours of biking, the trail leads to Glendhu Bay which offers beautiful views of Mount Aspiring. Notably, a mountain bike park, Bike Glendhu, is near the end of this trail and provides plenty of space for adventure bikers to test their skills. With beaches, waterfalls, and mountains, the Glendhu Bay Track is a great ride with a bit of difficulty but a great deal of beauty.
4. Lake Hawea Circuit – Road Bike Trail
Wanaka offers excellent trail options for road bikers. The Lake Hawea Circuit is about fifty kilometres and moves the cyclist from Wānaka to Lake Hāwea on smooth roads that overlook portions of Lake Hāwea. For a caffeine boost, stop by Mo’s, a simple cafe serving espresso, located by Lake Hāwea.
The loop passes by the Wanaka Airport, so cyclists can pause to admire the vast skyline and watch planes as they land and depart. During particular times of the year, bikers might also be privy to blooming lavender fields along the path between the Airport and downtown Wanaka; the lavender fields are a favourite of locals and tourists alike.
Additionally, for recreational cyclists, Wanaka tourism has created a smartphone application called the Wanaka Tracks App to help guests select a track that will result in a positive experience.
5. The Neck – Road Bike Trail
The Neck, a road bike trail, offers beautiful views of lake and mountain landscapes—the road switches from overlooking Lake Hawea to Lake Wanaka. Wanaka is a beautiful location for recreational or competitive cyclists. Allow plenty of time to stop at lookout points; the breathtaking scenery will only enhance the ride.
The path is a minimum of about eighty kilometers if bikers turn around once reaching the Neck. If you want a longer ride, the continuing trip to Makarora offers splendid views of Mt Aspiring National Park and increases the ride by about forty kilometers.
6. Tarras and Ardgour Road Loop – Road Bike Trail
The Tarras and Ardgour Road Loop is a perfect trail for a longer ride at nearly one hundred kilometres. Road bikers of all experience levels can enjoy the serene path through the Upper Clutha River Valley to Tarras with slight elevation. For those looking for a day of outdoor adventure and local experiences, this loop is an excellent option.
Along the road loop trail on Highway 8, many cyclists enjoy a mid-ride coffee or a lunch break at Tarras Country Cafe. Popular menu items include espresso-based beverages and smashed avocado toast. At the pitstop area, other points of interest include a public restroom and a shopping centre with clothing and housewares. The loop also passes the Lindis River, a subsidiary of the Clutha River.
Start Exploring Wanaka Bike Trails
Visitors to Wanaka can find the perfect biking trial for every need, from challenging trails that require expert experience to flat road paths perfect for novices and sightseers. For cyclists booking a Wanaka holiday, review the top bike trails in the area as you finalize travel plans.