50km - Beginners to Advanced
The 500ha privately-owned Naseby Forest is a working forest with a recreation area that is the ultimate playground for mountain bikers – whether you’d prefer an easy ride or a good work out, the choices are there.
This exotic forest of Douglas fir, Larch, and Corsican pine was once home to Naseby’s goldfield and is in fact only a stone’s throw away from the charming township of Naseby. Enjoy the experience of cycling under a rich canopy of green, on trails that weave through this open forest floor. Mostly flat and undulating, these trails follow the natural contours making for hours of exploration. Do beware there are some blind corners, so do look out for those walkers and joggers.
Before you get going, check to see if the forest is open. If there’s logging or the risk of fire is high, the forest will be closed. The best thing to do would be to ask at the information centre first (Naseby, Ranfurly, Alexandra, etc.) or one of the local pubs and while you are there pick up a trail map. If it’s good to go, pack your camera (you won’t regret it) and some goodies and enjoy this adventure. Just remember, you’re on private property so respect all signage and follow all instructions.
To get started head up to the swimming dam just above Naseby township. For a nice easy ride and ideal for the family, follow the Mount Ida water race that winds its way along the stunning Hawkdun Range. This has the best surface and is always great no matter what the weather.
For the more experienced, have a play on single track trails that weave though the sluiced out areas and expect to be wowed by spectacular vistas over the forestry canopy towards Mt Ida – truly magical.
Oteake Conservation Park Trails
68km of trails - Intermediate to Expert
The Oteake Conservation Park is almost 65,000 hectares of mountainous high country, tussock plateaus, scree slopes, wetlands and shrub land. The distinctive flat-topped Hawkdun Range is the park’s centrepiece; often featured in photography and paintings with the St Bathans, Ewe, Ida and St Marys ranges, as well as parts of the upper Manuherikia Basin included within the park.
There are several access points on both the Otago and Canterbury sides of the park, the mains one being car parks at Hawkdun Runs Road, Falls Dam, Home Hills Run Road and Mt Buster Road in the Maniototo near St Bathans, and on Broken Hut Road from the Waitaki Valley.
Make a stop in Omakau and stock up on refreshments and food to take with you on your day’s adventure!
There is a wide range of Central Otago cycle trails and roads in the park, suitable for mountain-biking as well as walking and tramping with 4WD vehicles not permitted on these trails. Much of the public access into the park is along easements crossing private land, please respect this by keeping to trails and roads, and leaving gates as you find them.
Some trails are well formed, while others require backcountry experience - all offer stunning river and or mountain range views. In the 1860’s gold was found within Oteake and at 1200m, the Buster Diggings became the country’s highest altitude gold workings. You can still see evidence of Oteake’s gold mining past in the network of water races found in the area.
In summer, conditions can be hot and dry, so carry plenty of water and sunscreen. Between May and October, snow could be present and an avalanche risk may exist, there are river crossings, so treat all rivers and streams with respect. As alpine conditions can occur at any time of the year, BE PREPARED.
Thomson Gorge Road
30km - Intermediate
Starting at Glassford Road, near the old gold mining town of Matakanui, this trail winds its way up through the gorge and over the 900m saddle into the Bendigo area. Take a moment to capture magical views of the often photographed Hawkdun Range as you look back to the east side – they are unforgettable.
As you follow Thomsons Creek all the way to the top of the saddle, you’ll find reminders of its gold mining past. Just off the track, you will discover a simple stone hut. Built in 1908, this simple dwelling was a shelter for drovers and travellers on their arduous journey to and from the goldfields and makes a pleasant place to stop for a bite to eat.
At the saddle crossing, a short traverse over the Dunstan Range crest before a vast open space to the west with stunning views over the Upper Clutha Valley towards Lakes Wanaka and Hawea, and the Southern Alps.
Wind down through the Rise and Shine Valley until you join up with State Highway 8 at the Lindis River bridge. Travel through an area rich in history, the gold mining area of Bendigo. Come In Time gold stamper, signposted from the trail is well worth a visit. If you have a torch even better, and take a short walk down past the tunnel entrance to the restored stamper battery and be amazed.
The bike track is approx. 30km and is a 140km round trip from Alexandra. A good surface 4WD track, greasy if wet, with a few small streams to cross, two steep climbs and two fast descents, but it’s well worth it. Please leave all gates open or shut as you find them on this intermediate grade route.
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