Hunua MTB Trails
Updated late 2012
Important note: the Hunua Ranges is the last forest in Auckland to have avoided the dreaded Kauri Dieback. Please adhere to all instructions in regards to cleaning your bike and footwear (click here for the full story and those instructions) - use the bike cleaning station at the Mangatawhiri Dam carpark (where you park for riding).
There is an area of the Hunua Ranges that has been designated OK for Mountainbike access and development.
October 2012 Update - aaah, spring is here and for 2012 that means more new trails! Thanks to the hard work of the Auckland Regional Parks Rangers like Scotty and John as well as volunteer mountainbikers, international conservation groups, Botany Downs High School students ("Off the Rails!") and the naughty boys of PD we have seen just on one full kilometre of single track added to the Moumoukai Valley MTB network from raw bush in less than 2 weeks! (OK, there was a good 1 year of permissions, red tape and budgeting in there...ed.) And with some fantastic chill spots by the Mangatawhiri River where we enjoyed a rather chilling dip after a recent hot day's Working Bee. More on the latest project soon - our roving radman Gabb has been involved and has captured some great footage of the whole process. The November Working Bee will no doubt be a great chance to polish things off with some shaping and tweaks on the jumps. Click here to drop down to the dates for the next Working Bee.
January 2012 Update - as we head into summer the trails are getting a lot of use and are riding well. The working bee schedule has been published for 2012 and the dates are shown below. Come and put your bit back into the sport, have a say in the trails and have some great fun (we do every time!). Click here to drop down to the dates.
October 2011 Update - a small crew turned up for this month's working bee but boy did they get some work done! We had the pleasure of 2 MTB Divas in Anna and Becks, Becks (Rebecca Wissman) being from Michigan over in NZ for a few months and helping out as part of her intern work with Krusty's company Big Foot Adventures. Focus was on the new trail RocknRubble and rubble was the theme of the day with the team of 7 (plus an under-the-weather Ranger Scott Kusabs, good on ya Scotty) laying down rock over most of the new trail in readiness for opening at the next Bee. That'll be a fun day so mark your calendar and come on out for the fun!
Aug 2011 Update - Good turn out to Working Bee.
A hardy group of 13 riders turned up to ride the trails before the Bee on the Sunday morning. The trails are recovering well from the peak of winter where many open paddock areas were very muddy making for a difficult ride. Areas in need of work were noted and the crew headed back to the carpark to meet up with Ranger Scott Kusabs for the work to commence.
Fed by the Auckland MTB Club, the group were treated to a bonus when Scott handed out some maps with new trail lines marked down. "Now get out there and mark them out so I can get the Ecological people in to tick them off."
Naturally the riders jumped at this opportunity as Hunua is desperately in need of more trail kilometers. The group split up with some heading off to lay down some rock on Wiggly Squiggle to fix some sloppy spots. By 3 o'clock and despite some badly scratched legs due to fighting through horrible blackberry, the riders regrouped for a beer and a feeling of achievement and anticipation at working on new trails in the near future. Stay tuned!
Jul 2011 Update - It was a very industrious group of mountainbikers at July's Working Bee.
Despite blustery conditions, they got in an early morning ride, completed the new bike washdown unit, cleaned up muddy trails at both the Riverside Ford and Haybarn and even distributed 100's of natives ready for the keen kids of Hunua Primary School to plant later that week. We even captured it all on video so check it out here.
Regards the trails, Krusty and Ko. reported that the trails were riding great - when you consider the amount of rain that had dumped in the previous week, that is true testimony to the weather proofing work that has gone into these trails making them truly year-round rideable.
Discussions ensued about the Auckland MTB Club coming to the party in regards to funding signage on the valley loop to help newbies maintain a sense of where they are (this is based on feedback we have had), so watch out for some action there at the next Working Bee on Sunday 21st August.
May 2011 Update - The cyclewaynewzealand crew hit the valley to scope things out and included the BIG climb up to the Freaky Styley Downhill to check it out. Fairly slippery and will only get worse over winter but Ian and co. have worked hard to keep this fast descent FAST!! The other trails holding well for winter riding although recent storms have seen the Challenge DH closed until a large tree and some subsidence are sorted (hopefully in the May 29 Working Bee!).
Feb 2011 Update - After the extreme weather of late (2 cyclones with record rainfall), we await Ranger Scotty's report on the trails' condition. If the Hunua Falls area is anything to go by, there may be some work to do!
Ranger Scotty Kusabs will be directing this month's Working Bee crew at the Challenge Trail for some storm damage repair.
October 4 2010 - the Moumoukai Valley network of trails are looking good considering the amount of rain and storms through the area over winter - a good reflection of the construction and maintenance by the ARC and MTB volunteers over the years.
The Working Bee party that worked through this lovely spring day wanted to start work on an all new trail (Wall Street) that will eliminate even more road (sorry Roadies, ha ha!) for the wetsern valley return part of the ride, but all this sort of stuff is on hold due to the Super City goings on (thanks Rodney).
CNZ's Krusty Kris and Gabb headed through the trails before the June Working Bee where volunteers worked with ARC Ranger Scotty Kusabs on a few spots that were suffering from the weather and traffic. More flow in a few spots was targetted along with plans for more tweaking of the new diversion halfway in the River Trail. Scotty is onto it and these spots will be address in future Working Bees (see below).
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Krusty Kris has worked with ARC Ranger Scotty Kusabs to set the below dates for us to head in for Working Bees to work on the MTB network at the Hunua Ranges. The ARC provide some very helpful tools and resources as well as paying for rotten rock for weatherproofing and resources for bridges etc. We often start with a pre-Working Bee ride to ‘suss out' the trails and what work to do, so it's lots of fun. Let Kris know you're coming and he'll shout you a high energy lunch courtesy of the Auckland MTB Club and ARC will provide a replenishing BBQ dinner!
Meet at the Maungatawhiri car park at 8.30am if you want to go for a ride, or at 10.00am to rip straight into the work.
As usual, the club will look after you with a high energy lunch and the fine folks at ARC Southern Park shout a BBQ afterwards – this is if you let Kris know you are coming!
So drop Kris an email or bell him on 09 444 1446 or mobile 0274 955 966.
There is also the opportunity for you and your mates to get a team together and head out and work on the tracks any time of the year. Just give Ranger Scott Kusabs a call on ph: 2924267 to talk about some appropriate dates.
Please note that there is always a possibility of alterations to this calendar throughout the year – please stay in touch if you wish to be informed. Subscribing to the club's e-newsletter is the best way to do this.
So email Kris Bartley to be added to the mailing list, or phone him on 09 444 1446 or mobile 0274 955 966.
As an added bonus, if you attend three or more of these club working bees he'll hook you up with a free Auckland MTB Club membership for the 2012/3 year.
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SINGLE TRACK THROUGH REGENERATING NATIVE BUSH – GET AWAY FROM IT ALL!
If you haven't ridden in the ARC Hunua Ranges Park, it's time you checked it out. Only 40 mins from town, you'd swear you were hundreds of kilometres away from the Big Spoke. There's camping facilities where you park and the MTB tracks have been growing over the last few years and continue to grow.
How to Get there
Take the Papakura off-ramp from State Highway 1 motorway. Head towards Settlement Road and turn into Hunua Road alongside Sir Edmund Hillary School. Travel all the way through to Hunua township – 6km further on and look for the yellow AA “DAMS” sign on your left, turning into Moumoukai Road. You climb via gravel road past the Waiora Dam turnoff and then drop down to Mangatawhiri Dam. Park up in the campground carpark at the foot of this impressive earth dam – then you can clean your bike at the bikewash provided by ARC Hunua (editors note - bike wash removed due to vandalism, plans are afoot to build a new one right at the toilet block).
Lower Mangatawhiri Loop
14km return, medium grade, 1hr 30m – highly recommended.
From the campground parking area, ride back along the road you came in on, away from the dam. Follow the MTB signs veering you left to the gate 1km from the campground (if you start to climb, you haven't veared left). There's even a biker's entrance now so you don't have to lift your bike over the gate! You then have a nice easy warm-up ride along gravel road to the start of the newish River Trail. The River Trail is the newest addition to this area, eliminating 4km of gravel road (yahoo!) and takes you into the valley proper .This is the best MTB ride in the area with great views and good technical single track. Whilst it may be only 14km, it's sure worth a double lap and there's plenty of swimming options along the way. Or you can even enjoy a nice dip back at the campground.
The Freaky Styley MTB Club and the Counties Manukau MTB Club have spent many a hard (but happy) hour building and weather-proofing these tracks for you, so enjoy! With the help of club members like yourself, the Hunua Rangers hope to add more tracks over the next year and beyond, eventually having a whole network of tracks that you can ride on for hours. The beauty of these tracks is that once they're there, they're there for good – no commercial operation is going to come in and chop chop (refer loss of Secret Trail etc. in Riverhead over the last few years).
Look out for the sweeping, good-for-all Family Trail that will weave around the flat area close to the campground. This will be a great addition to this area and has already been approved. Make sure you take every opportunity to provide MTB feedback to ARC Hunua (visit the info centre in Hunua township) so that they know we want more and more trails. And come along to a Working Bee – this does wonders for our cause.
Mangatawhiri Challenge Trail
11km return, medium/difficult grade, 1 – 3 hrs
This is the first MTB track that was opened in the area. It's a toughie and we know it has scared off a few beginners from the area – come back and ride the LOWER MANGATAWHIRI LOOP! The Challenge Trail follows a ridge above the dam and therefore traverses some pretty steep up and downs. Only try this one in the dry! It's hard enough walking up those slopes in the wet let alone riding!
Anyway, it's a good challenge for a fit rider and rewards you with some stunning views – you can look north and see the Sky Tower as a tiny little stick in the distance. There are also views down either side to the Mangatawhiri and Wairoa Dams. The story goes that someone has managed to ride this one with only 2 feet-downs. I can remember my best being 14!
From the campground, ride up towards and past the dam. Follow the signs taking you on a 4km gravel road climb alongside the Reservoir – good speedy in/out up/down until the climb proper starts. At the top the signs turn you back onto the main ridge and the tough single track begins. The route then comes out onto Moumoukai Road, where you drove in. Don't forget to take the great 7 minute single track downhill on the left of the road halfway down. There had been plans to make this downhill from the very top, but a recent subsidence has curtailed this for now.
Used today for riding enjoyment and exhilaration, the hills and forests of the Hunua Ranges were used primarily by pre-Europen Maori as a source for food, timber and as a refuge rather than for permanent residence.
Following the Land Wars, the Hunua Range was confiscated by the Crown and divided into blocks. These were then granted to soldiers as a reward for their war service, or leased to settlers. The area was cleared for timber and farmed.
Rugged terrain, poor soils and difficulty of access meant this land was the last to be settled in the Auckland region.
In fact, access to and from the interior of the Hunua Range was so difficult that an arduous trip to Auckland took place only once every two or three years. If only they'd had mountainbikes!
Around 1930, the Auckland City Council began purchasing land in the area for the supply of water to the rapidly growing city to the north. As a result, farming was phased out in the Hunua Range.
Today, Watercare Services Ltd operate four dams, built between 1950 and 1977 and together they supply 61% of Auckland's water. It's these dams that you see lots of pictures of when there's a water crisis.
Between five and fifteen million years ago, the Hunua Range was lifted out of the sea by the movement of rock plates. Later volcanic activity on the western edge of the Hunua Range let basalt lava reach the surface through five major faults.
At Hunua Falls, lava rose in a volcano's throat and solidified to form a ‘plug' of solid grey basalt. Over time, the Wairoa River has eroded away the entire northern side of the crater to create a magnificent waterfall (certainly worth a visit on the way home from a ride).
It is estimated that 2-4 years ago, certain areas have formed into areas of tight single track with signs of tricky drop offs and occasional stream crossings. Experts predict that, if we treat things right, this type of landscape will evolve into a network of interlinked systems that will crisscross much of the terrain.
The Hunua Range is the largest block of forest to be found on the mainland of the Auckland region. The forest grows from the coast to the very top of the highest peaks in the Range. In all, there are over 450 different species of native plants, 21 of which are either nationally or regionally threatened.
This is why you must stick to the tracks and preserve the fauna – it's hard to tell a young growing native starting it's long life when it's just a toddler.
Although many of the large stands of kauri, matai, kahikatea, tawa, rata and rimu were removed by logging last century, they are now regenerating successfully.
That's not to say every magnificent tree was removed in the Hunua Range. As you wander, you will see plenty of towering giants.
In 1964, the first plantings of radiata pine trees in the north west of the Range were established on what was once cleared farmland. Today, 2240 hectares of exotic forest are being logged and replanted under a forestry lease.