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Kaikōura Cycling Trails

Kaikōura offers a variety of spectacular mountain bike trails to explore the varied majestic landscapes from rugged coastlines to mountain ranges. There are tracks for all levels of experience ranging from casual family trails to challenging climb adventures. Biking in Kaikōura is seen as an excellent way get around town, explore the area with its varied landscapes and for the more experienced a way to get a full workout.

The tracks are ride-able all year around with exceptions depending on weather conditions. Bike with comfortable layered clothes and suitable warm gear in winter as weather can change fast and unexpectedly.

For more information on tracks or mountain bike/ e-bike rentals please visit the Kaikōura i-SITE. Further details about the tracks and maps can be found on the Kaikōura Cycling Club website.

The Kowhai Trail

Grade: Easy to intermediate
Track distance: 17.7km single way
Start location: Kaikōura i-SITE or Mt Fyffe carpark

The Kowhai trail is a well- formed track build and maintained by The Kaikoura Cycling Club. The track is suitable for most riders of average ability and families. The part of the track up the river is a proper mountain bike trail so be cautious of obstacles and ride with care.

The trail starts at the Kaikōura i-SITE, turn right onto Killarney street, then left onto Torquay street and right up the cutting at Takahanga Terrace. Use the shared path down the hill to South Bay and access the cycle path at the South Bay intersection. Another option is to start the trail from this point. Look for the Kaikōura cycle club signage.

The trail follows it’s way along between the road and ocean to the Kowhai Bridge. It is recommended to dismount and walk your bike under the bridge as it is a lower passage.

The Kowhai section has a mix track of single bush track and gravel tracks along the river bank with a subtle climb up to the Mt Fyffe car park (200 meters). The total trail is a 17-kilometer ride that takes around 2.5 hours to return to Kaikōura town center.The Kowhai Track is part of the full Kaikōura Trail. From Postmans road turn right onto Red Swamp road to drive back to town for the 2,5 hour track. Keep following the Kaikōura cycling trail signs for a longer ride. There are several exits from the river bank track following the quiet country roads back to the start.

Key highlights 

  • Nice & cruisy/ relaxed track suitable for the whole family
  • Great views of the mountain range and peninsula


Good to note

  • Get a map from the Kaikōura i-SITE
  • Protect and respect our wildlife, plants and trees


The Kaikoura Cycling Trail

Grade:  Easy to intermediate
Track distance: 48 km
Start Location:  Kaikōura i-SITE

The complete circuit is a long-distance track of 48 km with a mix of single tracks varying form native bush tracks to quiet country roads. The full trail is rid-able for most levels of experience with some intermediate sections. Allow yourself about 4 hours to complete the full loop or cycle a smaller section in a couple of hours. The Kaikōura Cycling trail is built and maintained by The Kaikōura Cycling Club, a group of motivated volunteers.

Start the track from town with the Kowhai section. A family friendly bush track on a single gravel path along the river bank as described in the Kowhai Track. At the end there is an optional climb just under 200 meters towards the Mount Fyffe carpark or take the exit onto Postmans Road. Keep following the Kaikōura cycling club signage.

From here you ride along the quiet country roads with some subtle uphill climbs. As you are cycling around the Kaikōura Plains you will get many glimpses of the ocean and the Kaikōura Peninsula.
The intermediate section starts at the Hapuku river where your steering skills are tested as you zigzag your way through impressive mixed size Totara trees. The north- and south-beach sections are again casual and family friendly. The trail can be completed from either direction.

Key Highlights

  • Variety of single trail bush, quiet country roads.
  • Mountain, ocean and peninsula views
  • Cycle the entire trail or choose a section by the many access and exit places


Good to note

  • Mixed Surface – single trail, gravel, tar
  • Some sections of single trail are intermediate grade. ride within your ability.
  • Be considerate of walkers

Puhi Puhi Valley

Grade: Intermediate
Track distance: 22 km return
Start location: Puhi Puhi Road

Climb your way up into the impressive Puhi Puhi Valley on the northern end of the Seaward  range. Drive 12 km north of Kaikōura, turn off just past the Hapuku River Bridge into Puhi Puhi Road. The track is a gravel road that follows the river up to the Puhi Peaks Station.

Make a stop at the Puhi Puhi reserve to take a stroll around the 10-minute bush walk to see the very old preserved Rimu trees. Continue your cycling trip through the valley and enjoy the views of the mountains around as you climb your way up towards the Jordan River bridge. Another good opportunity to stop and take in the panoramic views. The climb finishes at Saddle Gate, under the second highest peak in the Seaward Kaikōura Range, Te Ao Whekere (2598 m.)

From here you start your return journey back following the same path back which is now an effortless ride back down the valley.
Check out the The Kaikōura Cycling Club website for the route from town.

Key Highlights

  • Classic gravel ride
  • Puhi Puhi Reserve with massive native trees
  • Stunning mountain views


Good to note

  • Water refill at the Puhi Puhi campsite
  • Fords can flood in rain
  • Be aware of possible vehicles

BLUE Duck Valley Road

Grade: Intermediate
Track distance: 25 km return
Start location: Seaward Valley Station

The track starts 18 km north of Kaikoura at the Seaward Valley Station.
19 km north of Kaikoura. This is a grunt climb up to the famous Blue Duck Valley Scientific Reserve. The area is lowland podocarp forest. The reserve climbs up to the limestone slopes of Mt Alexander ridgeline. 25 kms return.

Clarence Reserve to Forbes Hut

Grade: Advanced
Track distance: 27.8 km one way
Start location: Clarence Reserve Car-park

A good weekend track over the Blind Saddle to Forbes hut to explore the area of the Clarence Reserve. The Clarence is located at the Ka Whata Tu o Rakihouia Conservation Park and can be described as a vast and rugged high-country landscape straddling the Seaward Kaikōura Range.

To access the track from Kaikōura, follow SH1 south for five kilometers to the Waiau/Mt Lyford turnoff, and head inland to the car park at Kahutara River bridge, 25 kilometres from Kaikōura. There is a locked gate here, however, mountain bikers do not need an access permit. Mountain bikers are requested to use roads and formed tracks only.

The track first crosses the Kahutara River. Bikers need a good level of fitness since there is lots of climbing through farmland and native forest, changing to shrub land then alpine vegetation near the top.
The biggest climb is over the Blinds Saddle up to highest point of the track around 1200m. Make a stop at Blinds Saddle for some rewarding panoramic views. Along the way down the Seymour Stream you will see some historic huts from the early farming days and following on the Seymour brings you to the Clarence River and Forbes Hut where you can stay overnight.

All operating huts in this area are standard huts, requiring a back country hut season pass or a one night hut ticket. Huts in the area are all equipped with bunks, drinking water and open fires places, although best to take a portable cooker. Forbes hut has 10 bunk beds.To get out of the valley, it’s the same way you came in.
There are many opportunities for adventure beyond Forbes Hut. For these options please obtain more information here or check out the map.

Key Highlights

  • Multiple day track with overnight in huts
  • Impressive views from Blind Saddle and summit
  • Expansive and rugged high country


Good to note

  • Surface – Gravel, 4wd track, riverbed
  • No fires
  • Hut pass/ticket required for huts. Kaikoura i-SITE

Mount Fyffe

Grade: Advanced
Track distance: 52 km return from town 8km climb
Start location: Mt Fyffe carpark or from town (for the ocean to mountain top experience)

Mt Fyffe is Kaikōura’s most advanced Mountain bike track for real thrill seekers. The way up is a serious hill climb adventure which requires a very good level of fitness. You will be rewarded with a downhill rush and  breath-taking views over Kaikōura and mountain ranges.
The Mt Fyffe hut is 1100 meters from the car park. Here you can refill your water bottle and make a toilet stop.

The last part to the top is another strenuous 200-meter track of loose surface. The descent is fast so make sure your bike has the correct setup. Only bikes with front suspension can be used and a good set of disc brakes are recommended.
Start with the Kowhai trail to get the full ocean to mountain top (1605m) experience.
Important: Please be aware of weather changes, wear/ bring suitable clothing, carry a first aid kit, food and bicycle repair kit. Before you head up tell people about your intentions and route or contact the Kaikōura i-SITE for further information and to inform them about your plans.

Key highlights

  • Top views
  • Great workout and challenge


Good to note

  • Must have advanced mountain bike skills
  • Steep ascent and descent
  • Mountain bikers must give way to walkers

Haumuri Bluffs

Grade: Easy
Track distance: 9.2 km
Start location: North of the Oaro bridge

Following the railway south from Oaro, this easy grade ride beside the railway is ideal for the whole family and gets you close to the ocean and some notable remnants from our past.

The Haumuri Bluffs track starts from Oaro just a 30 minute drive south of Kaikōura .
Park at the layby just north of the Oaro bridge, push your bike along the beach to the front of Oaro village, and you’ll find the gravel road that follows the rail until it disappears into a tunnel under the Bluffs 4.5 km down the coast.
There’s plenty to look at along the way.

The Hamuri Bluffs were an important fossil-collecting site in the 19th century and there are loads of fossil filled stones lying around. Railroad wreckage lies amongst the boulders on the seawall and you will almost always see New Zealand fur seals. If you’re lucky, you’ll see dusky dolphins playing in the water off the coast. When the tide is out, there are lots of places to explore amongst the rocks, and on a hot summer day, you should be able to find a sheltered spot to take a dip. Check out the The Kaikōura Cycling Club website for more information on the track.


  • Limestone Haumuri bluffs
  • Minerals and fossils can be found along the beach
  • Marine wildlife can sometimes be spotted

Good to note

  • One- way track
  • Surface – Shingle. A push across the beach from carpark
  • Watch out for trains

Hurunui Heartland Ride

Grade: Intermediate
Track distance: 204 km
Start location: North of the Oaro bridge

The Hurunui Heartland Cycle Ride is an on-road route that you can ride to your desire, either a multi-day explore or an epic one-day trip.

Newly established (opened April 2019) by Trails Coordinator Mark Inglis, the Hurunui Heartland Ride can be ridden in either direction.

The ride crosses a diverse range of landscapes and passes a variety of significant historical sites and attractions. From south to north (Amberley to Kaikōura ), highlights include vineyards, limestone outcrops, large pastoral farms, tussock land, creeks and rivers and into the mountain ranges at Lyford, then continuing down the Inland Road to the rugged and beautiful coast at Kaikōura , the Seaward Kaikōura Mountain Range towering over your left shoulder. Relax and catch your breath in the scenic seaside town of Kaikōura and explore the Kaikoura trail.

A 36km detour takes you to the Hanmer Springs alpine village with hot pools and access to magnificent high country cycling routes.

The roads are generally quiet, but care should be taken as vehicles could be encountered at any time. Tailor the journey to your level of fitness and skill; significant climbs and gravel sections require reasonable fitness and skill. For a map of this multiple day cycling please visit the The Kaikōura Cycling Club website


  • Diverse scenery; large North Canterbury plains, mountains and all the way down to the ocean
  • Interesting historic attractions
  • Connect with Hanmer Springs for the St James Cycle Trail, Molesworth Muster and Rainbow Trail

Good to note

  • 20km of gravel riding
  • Some large climbs
  • Be aware of traffic