Living in Auckland, we are lucky to be surrounded by beautiful freely-accessible regional parks. These parks are dotted around the Auckland region, most not more than 45 minutes to an hour from the city. They are home to beaches, forests, waterfalls and heaps of tracks, which are mostly for hiking. However, there are some that cater to the burgeoning mountain biking crowd. We have written about walking in the Hunua Ranges before – in fact, that walking track is also a mountain bike track.
One sunny day in early winter, we decided to take our bikes to Tawharanui Regional Park in the northern part of Auckland region. Tawharanui is on the east coast and is accessed via the towns of Warkworth and Matakana, off State Highway 1. We love timing our visits to this part of Auckland for Saturday mornings as there is a fantastic farmer’s market held in Matakana then.
Tawharanui has a couple of cheap, no-frills campsites beside a gorgeous white sand beach. In summer, this place is packed with campers and day-trippers from Auckland (it’s only an hour from the city) but on this June day we had it almost to ourselves.
We parked at the Lagoon Carpark and rode the North Coast – South Coast loop track. First we headed up the north coast. The track begins at Anchor Bay. It was a bit steep in parts but not too bad, with most of the riding along ridgelines with great vistas. Much of the park is a farm, so there are gates, sheep, and cows, as well as plenty of native birds (it’s a nature reserve and no fishing is allowed off the north coast, too). The council is in the process of building bike gates which are like mini cattle stops that mean you don’t have to open and close the farm gates.
At the end of the north coast half of the track, you reach the beginning of the track to Tokatu Point. It’s well worth cycling the extra ten minutes down to the end of the point – the views over the Hauraki Gulf, Kawau Island, Little Barrier Island, Great Barrier Island and Coromandel Peninsula in the distance are to die for.
If doing the track in the direction we did it, be prepared for the second half (the south coast) to be much more difficult than the first half! We’re novice mountain bikers and the steep gravel and muddy slopes were a bit much from time to time. Shaun loved skidding down them but I happily dismounted and walked my bike up and down the steepest ones – I didn’t really fancy face-planting the gravel!
The views are still spectacular though and we did enjoy the second half. The last downhill run back to the car park was fun as it was grass and not overly steep. We had most of the track to ourselves, only passing about five people the whole time we were there, about two hours. That’s one of the bonuses of going there in the winter!
We really recommend this track both for mountain biking and for hiking. The views are fantastic and in the summer time the beach is just lovely to spend the day at.
We’re just getting into mountain biking, so we would love recommendations for tracks that aren’t too hard in and around Auckland and the North Island, as well as further afield. Share your favourites in the comments below!
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