The Best Cycling Trails in Christchurch, New Zealand

Bottle Lake Forest Park, Christchurch
Bottle Lake Forest Park, Christchurch | © TRAILSOURCE.COM/Flickr
Thalita Alves

Family rides, road trails and plenty of mountain biking — if you’re planning to give cycling a spin, Christchurch is a great place to do it. Embrace New Zealand’s scenery and get your heart pumping with some of the best bike trails around the city. Here are a selected few to get you started.

North Hagley Park

Here’s an easy ride, right in the city centre, that the entire family can get into. North Hagley Park’s loop track totals 4.5 kilometres (2.8 miles) in distance and is reasonably flat throughout. Start your cycling circuit by the car park on Armagh Street. From there, you’ll follow a trail that contours the Avon River, passing by Little Hagley Park, the Hagley Golf Club and the Christchurch Museum as you complete the entire course. There are plenty of attractions to keep you busy if you want to make this a leisurely ride — the Christchurch Botanic Garden is just a quick detour before the museum.

North Hagley Park, Christchurch

Westburn Reserve

The Westburn Reserve trail has been devised with kid friendliness in mind. Younger riders can peruse the various pathways to practise their turns, signals, balance, and best practices for passing other cyclists and pedestrians. The park’s spacious tracks are laid out to look like a street network, with intersections and street signs, making it ideal for testing out all bike skills without the hassle of going out on the open roads.

Bottle Lake Forest

A mostly flat, but challenging mountain biking terrain with winding tracks that envelop a 1000 hectare (2471 acre) pine forest. There are two main rides to try out: the seven kilometre (4.3 mile) Family Route and the 10 kilometre (6.2 mile) Coastal Ride to Spencer Park. Both run on a circuit, taking you across the coastline. The Family Route starts at the Bottle Lake Forest car park, following the blue markers to the coast and back, while the Coastal Ride can begin at Spencer Park, or on Bowen Avenue next to the Waimairi Beach Golf Course.

Bottle Lake Forest Park, Christchurch

Castle Rock

This is a well-marked cycle trail that can be accessed through Mt Pleasant Road, or by biking up the Bridle Path Track. The 1.5 kilometre (0.93 mile) journey starts at the top of Castle Rock scenic reserve, and finishes at the Bridle Path car park. You’ll spot your starting point along a tight leg, which leads into a single eastbound track that switches back on itself a couple of times along the way.

Castle Rock, Christchurch

Witch Hill

This mountain biking ride is short and smooth — ideal for beginners. Climb up 70 metres (just under 230 feet) onto the shared track at the east end of Rapaki car park, in Port Hills. From there, you’ll make your way across to Witch Hill as you traverse Rapaki Rock. There’s no signage to get your bearings, but the trail is very clearly marked and easy to follow right on through.

Witch Hill Monument, on top of Rapaki Track

Le Race Route

If you’re looking for something more intensive, the Le Race Route will be right up your alley. This is the same ride that local bike racers tackle annually. You’ll cover a little under 100 kilometres (62 miles) in distance, starting in the city centre by Cathedral Square, and finishing up at Rue Lavaud in the town of Akaroa. On arrival, you can spend the day exploring the historic French and British settlement before finding your own way back to Christchurch (whether you want to cycle back or arrange to be picked up from the township is entirely up to you).

Le Race 2015

Summit Road

Start at Dryers Pass Road, outside the Thomson Park Scenic Reserve. You can access this road through Cashmere Hills by the Dryers Pass Road and Hackthorne Road intersection — take care when crossing, as the area gets quite busy. Turn left onto Summit Road, before turning onto Evans Pass Road and finishing off on Godley Road at the Banks Peninsula. All up, you’ll ride 20.9 kilometres’ (13 miles) of roads, traversing various parks and scenic reserves along the way.

Summit Road, Christchurch

Old Tai Tapu Road

Here’s a great way to see central Christchurch in all its glory. The 34 kilometre (21.2 mile) trip will take you from Bangor Street in the city centre, turning onto Oxford Terrace and Hagley Avenue before moving straight onto Lincoln Road and Halswell Road. At the end of Halswell Road you’ll turn onto Old Tai Tapu Road, turning onto Golf Links Road and up Tai Tapu Road to complete the circuit back into town. You can either end your journey from the initial departure point, or venture a little further up to Montreal Road.

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