Mountain Biking

New Zealand offers some fantastic backcountry mountain bike trails which can take you to remote and breathtaking parts of the country. This activity is increasing in popularity across the globe, with all kinds of tracks and trails being built each year.

Some of the key things to consider when taking your bike out is that unlike a walk or tramp, you can easily find yourself in the backcountry as you are using a machine to get you there. You also need to plan your trip and understand the inner workings of your bike, so if trouble appears, you can get yourself out of there in case there is no phone reception or help on hand.


Backcountry Mountainbikers - Nathan W

Did you know?

There are over 76,000 people who mountain bike in the NZ backcountry each year.
– There and Back, 2016 


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Outdoor Safety Code

The first thing to remember is that every trip needs a plan. It doesn't take much to turn a short trip into an 'unexpected night out' in the bush. If you've planned before you hit the track using the outdoor safety code as a guide, there's a good chance you'll be prepared to handle an unexpected turn of events. 

Safety is the outcome of good planning and good decision making
– Mike Daisley, MSC CEO
Find our more about the Outdoor Safety Code below. 


Key Insights 

 84% of search and rescues for backcountry mountain bikers were alone or separated from a group.
There and Back, 2016
Search and rescues are 4x higher on Easter and Queens Birthday weekends. 
– There and Back, 2016


Key Resources 

Activity Guide 

Backcountry mountain biking allows people to enjoy the technical challenges of riding while seeing large areas of New Zealand’s backcountry in a shorter time span. Every trip into the backcountry has an inherent degree of risk, which can be easily reduced through careful planning and good decision making. It doesn’t take long to plan. Use this guide to help you. 

Click the cover below to read it online 




Mitigate The Risks

Manage Fatigue

Employ strategies for identifying and managing fatigue. Ensure this is considered as part of any pre-trip planning and pay this element the due respect it deserves during your trip. Allow time for adequate breaks to rest and take on food/water. Most importantly ensure the culture surrounding your trip allows for topics such as fatigue management to be part of your conversations and communication.

What Should I Take? 

New Zealand weather is very changeable. Even if you set out in the sunshine and there is no rain in the forecast it's not uncommon to have an isolated shower. Make sure you take rain protection and extra layers you can put on if it gets cold. Having the right supplies means that you're more likely to remain warm, comfortable and safe for the duration of your ride.  

Wear the right fabrics. Clothing only retains what heat your body produces. Certain fabrics wick moisture away from the body and retain warmth. Avoid cotton clothing – when cotton gets wet it ceases to insulate you. Wet and cold clothing significantly contributes to hypothermia.

There are a few other essentials you should have on you for day rides. 

  • A comfortable backpack. About 30L is the largest you'd want to carry, and you could also look to place gear on your bike with a frame bag or seat pack. 
  • Food and water - take more than you think you'll need 
  • A basic first aid kit with any personal medication you may need. 
  • A map of your ride. 
  • A communication device. Mobile phones can have limited coverage in most outdoor locations. If you are going into a remote area consider hiring a personal locator beacon. 
  • A torch or headlamp with batteries 
  • A basic survival kit 

Questions to consider before you head out 

  • Have you told anyone that you're heading out?
  • What track are you planning to take?
  • How long will it take you?
  • Is it within the limits of everyone in the group?
  • Where will you stop for breaks?
  • How will you ensure you stick together during your ride?
  • What food and clothing will you need?
  • What are the other essentials you should take with you? 


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