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Wanaka cycle, mountain bike your heart out on Otago trails

Wanaka, South Island

Places to visit in Wanaka

Wanaka is a destination for dedicated cyclists whether it’s a pumped mountain bike or a cruisey e-bike for leisurely exploration. Wanaka is part of the Otago network of bike trails with Lake Dunstan cycle trail a mere 51 km distance. There are plenty of places to go where families can participate together with Lake Wanaka and Lake Hawea providing tantalising views encouraging visitors to stop and enjoy the experience. Explore Otago on a bike, love what Wanaka has to offer and find adventure on your two wheels.


Family members want to walk shared cycling trails? The cycle trails are shared tracks, take care around blind corners. And the dedicated volunteers of will appreciate a donation check them out at Bike Wanaka. Download the app for trails at your fingertips.

Otago cycle trails, Hawea River track, Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand
Otago cycle trails, Hawea River track, Wanaka, South Island


Riverside views, the 10 – 12 km trail links Lake Hawea to Wanaka via Albert Town. Stop and watch river surfing, grab a coffee and an easy grade. The track is connected to other easy routes around Wanaka. The northern start of the course is Domain Road in Lake Hawea township, and the southern end is the Albert Town Recreational Reserve. For most bikers, the trip will last one to two hours.

Outlet Upper Clutha River Track Loop (MTB)

Go where the locals get their dose of the outdoors, Lake Wanaka outlet trail or Upper Clutha River loop with the jet boats fizzing the upper Clutha River, picnics by river beaches, dog walkers and a chance to catch a beer at the historic Luggate Hotel. The trail along the river is narrow in parts and shared care is required.  Perhaps you would like to fish for dinner at THE HOOK. For energy boosts along the way get ready to queue at the Pembroke Patisserie and Double Black Café for foodie treats.

  • Short varied terrain with the option for the experienced MTB to follow family and friends on the Hikawai inland route
  • Nothing like delicious French pastries or succulent gourmet pie to start the day from Albert Town patisserie
  • Chance to paddle in the Clutha in sheltered beaches
  • The energy and bouncing light against the upper Clutha with poplar trees, pockets of native bush is beautiful
  • Suitable for all age groups
Upper Clutha River has it flows from Lake Wanaka, kayak, cycle or walk river trail, South Island, New Zealand
Upper Clutha River flows from Lake Wanaka, kayak, cycle or walk river trail, South Island

The gnarly HIKUWAI BIKE TRAIL offers challenges for those dedicated to the MTB. The inland Hikuwai route roughly follows the Outlet Upper Clutha shared track. The Hikuwai Loop is a 9km circuit. HIKUWAI BIKE TRAIL connects to DEANS BANK with an additional 11 km single track loop for experienced MTB.



Outlet flow forming upper Clutha River, Lake Wanaka, New Zealand
Outlet flow forming upper Clutha River, Lake Wanaka, NZ


A XC Deans Bank is where the Wanaka 10 hour race is run in October each year. Lots of fun with beginners vying with the experienced to finish the race. Starting at the Albert Town campground the track follows a 11km loop taking you to the Lake Wanaka outlet before doubling back through the forest.


Check out Wanaka walking trails.


  • WANAKA LAKE FORESHORE TO OUTLET, UPPER CLUTHA TRAIL – Wide, flat well maintained track dips behind the Wanaka marina to Eely Point (great swimming spot) to Bremer Bay where the Clutha River starts its journey (Lake Wanaka’s outlet). The campgrounds nearby Outlet Camp Wanaka is a classic camping site. The mature trees, the lakeside site and native bush places cyclists right at the doorstep of cycle trails.
  • WANAKA LAKE FORESHORE TO GLENDHU BAY – Millennium Track to Waterfall Creek Car Park – Wide, flat well maintained track passing #thatwanakatree is a great introduction for little legs to the biking fraternity.
Lake Wanaka iconic much photograhed tree, South Island, New Zealand
Lake Wanaka and #thatwanakatree, South Island, New Zealand
Lake Hawea, Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand
Lake Hawea, Wanaka, South Island

LAKE HAWEA CIRCUIT – Road bike trail

Lake Hawea Circuit is a 50 km trail. While the 50 km track is a considerable distance the trail passes cafes, Wanaka Airport with the Warbirds Museum, a Lavender Farm and gorgeous views of Lake Hawea.

THE NECK – road bike trail

Where scenery is a great reason to add THE NECK ROAD BIKE TRAIL to the bucket list. There are opportunities to view Lake Hawea and Lake Wanaka at the narrowest point between the two lakes. The 80 km trail can easily be shortened with a turn around on the trail once you reach the Neck.

Otago cycle trails, Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand
Otago cycle trails, Wanaka, South Island
Glendhu Bike Park awesome views, Wanaka, Southland, New Zealand
Glendhu Bike Park awesome views, Wanaka, Southland

Glendhu Bay Track & Bike Glendhu (MTB)

A marriage made in mountain bike heaven for holiday makers with a stunning lake 15 km ride. There are short steep sections and drops where experience is recommended. This is a shared trail so shared care is needed.

The icing on the cake

… is Bike Glendhu. What a view over Lake Wanaka and the mountain ranges beyond. The park is 1,000 hectares of curated trails designed for MTB offering challenges for experienced riders as well as beginners circuits. There is a well patronised cafe and non-bikers can simply relax and soak up the views while enthusiastic bikers drop from sky high views to the water.

Lake Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand
Lake Wanaka, South Island
Lismore jump park, Wanaka, South Island, New Zealand @Bike Wānaka
Lismore jump park, Wanaka @Bike Wānaka

Lismore jump park

Wanaka does things in style for the MTB community with a small yet got everything MTB jump park. There is a skills area featuring dirt tabletops and wooden hits, a jump track and technical tracks for those who are polishing their credentials as a mountain biker. There is a tiny jump park for little kids as well.

Cardrona Valley (MTB & Road Bike)

Cardrona Alpine Resort is innovative with summer downhill biking, mountain carting and a chance to explore the region without snow cover. Serious workouts are achieved biking to the top of the Crown Range. This is a 90 km return gruelling ascent and descent. There are lift-accessed downhill mountain bike trails making getting to the top for a downward spin easy. Cardrona has a bike school, onsite bike rentals and accessories available for hire and/or purchase.

Crown Range highest highway, NZ between Arrowtown _ Wanaka, South Island sunset, Wanaka, New Zealand
Crown Range highest highway, Wanaka, South Island

Sticky Forest & The Plantation

Wanaka’s pine forest is home to Sticky Forest & The Plantation over 25 mountain bike trails crafted by bikewanaka. The names are a roll call for fun, stumpy, the grove, venus and crankin’ fires. The heartfelt name ‘must stop look bench’ is enticing. The trails are designed to be enjoyed by all ability levels. All tracks are on public reserve, DOC reserve or private property. Some of the trails are shared walk / cycle trails.


Wanaka can easily form part of a cycling holiday exploring Otago. Check out Central Otago 4 cycling & walking trails attractions and things to do – Best Bits.

  • Lake Dunstan Cycle trail
  • Roxburgh Gorge Cycle trail
  • Clutha Gold Cycle trail
  • Central Otago Cycle trail

Dedicated cyclists have a must-go list with Central Otago cycle trails at the top of the bucket list. The cycle trails are shared with walkers and even horseback riders creating a mix of interests. For walkers it is very easy to pick a short section or even loop back on a section and meander through the visually impressive scenery and sights of long ago gold mining activities.

Two young people cycling the Otago Central Rail Trail with horses grazing by the side of the track, South Island, New Zealand
Otago Central Rail Trail


Wanaka to Lake Dunstan 51 km for cycling holidays either pedal power or use one of the many transport shuttle services.


Best Bits travel guide is published by Owned and managed by PacificJane Ltd.


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