On Ya Bike
The recent Port Hills fire certainly hasn’t done local cyclists any favours, with a lot of favourite hill tracks out of action for the moment and the barely christened Christchurch Adventure Park temporarily knocked out of action. However, there’s plenty of other good spots around the city to get your bike on while the clean-up and rebuild goes about getting everything back to optimal.
The Port Hills are far from entirely off limits; for amazing views and a wild ride, you can still hit up the 3-kilometre Bowenvale Traverse Track starting at the top of the Victoria Park car park, while both the Mount Vernon Track and the Mount Vernon Farm Track offer challenging climbs and fun descents and are often open even after wet weather. The Huntsbury Track (starting at the end of Huntsbury Avenue) offers a pleasant climb through open tussock country, and joins on to the ol’ classic that is the Rapaki Track, which remains one of the most popular tracks on the hills for good reason, with fantastic views over the top of Lyttelton Harbour. Just keep an eye out for walkers!
Down on the flat it’s worth checking out Roto Kohatu, an easy, flat track which winds its way gently past a number of lakes (including the one that gives the track its name) and wetlands that are havens for birdlife. You’ll find the start of the track at the north end of Sawyers Arms Road. Bottle Lake Forest Park’s criss-crossing layout of tracks remains as popular as ever, with plenty of route options – grab one of the maps from the car park and pay attention to signs in the forest itself to plan your own route.
McLeans Island offers about 15km of relatively friendly tracks around the McLeans Island Forest with a few gentle bumps and turns to provide a bit of a thrill. There are a couple of different loop options to choose from with regular bail-out options crossing through the forest if you decide you’ve had enough.
Keep it urban with the Northern Railway Cycleway, which offers a cycle route that keeps you out of traffic all the way from Tuckers Road in Northcote in the north to Kilmarnock Street in Riccarton to the south, or hit the BMX tracks at Crosbie Park (Apsley Drive), Craighead Reserve (Northcote Road) and the Bromley Old School Reserve (Bromley Road), or get the kids some valuable street cycling practice in safety on the mock street layout in Burnside’s Westburn Reserve.
For longer rides, hit the Little River Rail Trail which takes you from Shands Road (about 400 metres south of the Shands Road / Halswell Junction intersection) to Little River via Prebbleton, Lincoln, Motukarara, and Birdlings Flat, giving you an up-close view of the region while keeping you off the busy Christchurch-Akaroa Road, tackle the challenging and breathtaking network of trails around Castle Hill and Craigieburn Forest Park, or head out to the St James Cycle Trail for 1-2 days of challenging riding with magnificent scenery. A warning though; these last two are for more advanced riders.