Updated February 2008

This is a quick guide for anyone heading in to Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park for the first time.

1. How to get there

First print yourself a copy of the current track map.

From downtown Wellington head to the northern end of Lambton Quay (where the Beehive/Parliament is) and turn west onto Bowen Street. Overhead you'll notice some trolley bus wires. Follow those all the way (about 5km) through Karori till they end at South Karori Road.

Here's a copy of the bus route map (switch your printer to landscape mode before printing it).

The carpark entrance to the Park is 1km down South Karori Road, on the right (stream side).

2. When to ride

All the single tracks can be soft and slushy during and after rain. It's best to wait two or three days after heavy rain before hitting the single track trails.

There are about 8km's of solid 4WD track which will be fine to ride even when wet.

3. What to ride

A mountain bike. We're assuming you have a fat tyred bike with some low gears for the hills. Suspension is optional. Big-suspension single-chainring downhill bikes should try out Trickle Falls.

4. What to expect

There are currently 8km of 4WD track and 24km ofAM custom built single track. The single track routes have been designed for a wide range of abilities - from beginner to expert.

The southern half of the park is covered in regenerating native bush, mostly over 3 metres tall. The single tracks are sheltered but slow to dry out.

The northern and higher half of the park is dominated by gorse and barberry. The tracks are exposed to all winds, but dry out faster after rain.

5. Where to start: the Koru

From the carpark ride up the Koru to the Skills Area.

The Koru has two start options. If you want to keep your feet dry cross the bridge and take the left fork. The wet route starts to the left just before the carpark bridge - just behind the notice board. Take care as the ford can be deep at times.

Follow the Koru downstream and gently uphill to the Skills Area. The Koru has an average slope of only 3 degrees all the way up so that beginners should be able to ride it.

Gravel has been laid on almost all of the Koru track.

6. First stop: Skills Area

The right hand turn-off to the Skills Area is signpostedAM part way along the Koru track. Once you reach the Skills Area you can play around on the various humps, bumps, logs and other obstacles. There's a picnic table if you want to have a lunch stop.

From here you have several options:

  1. return to the carpark on Lazy Fern (retrace your steps to Koru and turn right) - it's a very cruisy downhill
  2. return to the carpark on Livewires (for skilled riders)
  3. return to the carpark via the remainder of Koru, SWIGG and Starfish (for skilled riders)
  4. head further north up into the park via Sally Alley (for riders with intermediate skills) - it starts from the turnoff to Lazy Fern on Koru
  5. head north up into the park via the 4WD pylon access road (aka. The Snake Charmer - for all riders)
  6. do a short 1.2km loop along Sally Alley or the 4WD road and back on Magic Carpet (for riders with average skills)

7. Next up: Sally Alley

From the Skills Area head 150m back down to the Koru and turn right continuing to the Sally Alley and Lazy Fern junction - turn left.

Sally Alley sidles around the hillside all the way to Missing Link. It requires slightly more skill than the Koru.

8. Next up: Missing Link

Sally Alley ends directly across a 4WD track from the start of Missing Link.

From this point you can look over Nikau Valley to Pylon 16 - the other end of Missing Link and the start/end of another 4WD access road. The Missing Link track is designed for riders with "intermediate" skills. However there are one or two spots where the track is narrow and the drop off the side is steep - some riders find this a bit nerve-wracking.

You'll find out what "intermediate" means by riding this track.

From the other end of Missing Link you can:

  1. return the same way to the Sally Alley junction, turn left up a 4WD track toAM the main 4WD road and turn right and then right again to take you to the Lazy Fern/SWIGG/Sally Alley junction. Its your choice for a route to the carpark - try SWIGG/Starfish to the left or Magic Carpet/Live Wires straight ahead)
  2. ride up Aratihi (starts just above the pylon) which takes you almost all the way up to the summit, turning right at the only junction.
  3. ride up Aratihi then left/ at a junction and south onto Leaping Lizard which heads out to the southern end of the Park. From there you can either climb out and over to South Karori Road, or climb back up the Possum Line track to rejoin the Nikau track. Leaping Lizard features some nifty jumps which have been known to catch a few riders by surprise (for experienced or cautious riders).
  4. ride up Aratihi then left/south onto Leaping Lizard for about 1km till you find Nikau on the left. Ride this down and then up to the middle of Missing Link. From there either head left to the bottom of Aratihi, or right, back towards the carpark.

9. All the way: Makara Peak

There are three ways to reach Makara Peak (412m):

  1. via Koru/Sally Alley/Missing Link/Aratihi
  2. via Koru or St Albans Ave 4WD track, then up the Snake Charmer 4WD access road
  3. via Makara Road, Varley's Track (riding up the switchback corners takes a bit of practice) and Zac's Track.

All routes require riding uphill - the Snake Charmer is the easiest of the three options. Once you get there, 90% of your work-out is done for the day and the views (on a good day) are awesome. The Peak is very exposed to winds from every direction.

Getting down:

  1. back down the Snake Charmer towards the Skills Area - note there may be riders coming up so stay left and ride the corners slowly. Expert riders should avoid this option - the single track is much cooler and it's safer to avoid other riders coming up.
  2. south via Leaping Lizard - a nice long downhill with a few good jumps (there's a bit of a grunt climb out from the bottom though).
  3. east via the Ridgeline (for skilled riders) - this track is steep and has some nasty ruts - and then on down to SWIGG/Starfish, Magic Carpet/LivewiresAM.
  4. north via Zac's Track and Varley's - the quickest way to get out of the park; is exposed to winds.
  5. out to Allington Road via Vertigo - a hardcore track for skilled riders.
  6. out to Allington Road via Trickle Falls - purpose built by and for downhillers. Big suspension is an asset, but not essential.

10. What next?

Future tracks in the making include an easy track linking Allington Road and St Albans road and a technical uphill track for experienced riders between the tops of Vertigo and Trickle Falls try riding the funky Skinks Back.

11. How to help?

Glad you asked - come along to a work party one Sunday (the timetable has details) and from Wellington bike shops. We do track maintenance all year round and in summer we focus on building tracks and in winter we plant native trees. We also do possum and goat control year round.

Join the Makara Peak Supporters Group. Either email supporters@makarapeak.org.nz , ph 04 499-6376AM, or download a membership form (23KB pdf file) and send it to Makara Peak Supporters (Inc), PO Box 17-095, Karori, Wellington.

Enjoy the park and tell your friends.

12. More questions?

Have a look at our Questions page and if that doesn't help post a message on the Discussion page.