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. 

Watch how to pack for an overnight bike ride


Choose your track

Consider your ability, skills and fitness of everyone in your group

Tracks here can differ dramatically and will require different levels of fitness, equipment and planning. It's important to recognise that the perceived risk of a day walk can be very low, where as the potential risk can be surprisingly high. 

  • Are you going as a group? Get everyone involved in the planning
  • Experience level and fitness | Check with everyone in your group
  • How will help find you if something goes wrong? Will there be cellphone signal?
  • What is the trip like? Will it be rough terrain? River crossings?
  • How will you get there? Does everyone have the gear/transport for the whole trip?

Start looking at maps and websites to gain insight into what your trip will include.

Prepare for your ride

It doesn't take a big injury to slow you or your group down considerably and there are plenty of people who've got lost at a track junction. If you do have an 'incident' in the outdoors and you end up spending an unexpected night out, the temperature can drop dramatically and its often damp as well. You'll be thankful you planned accordingly.

Consider your level

  • Explore the track grades on DOC's website to see what track grade is right for your skills. Make sure you have the strength, stamina and skills on local tracks before attempting backcountry trips.

Take the basics to keep you comfortable and safe

What you take with you will make all the difference if something were to go wrong such as getting lost, delayed or injured. It pays to consider how these are packed on your person and bike - our Pack for an Overnight Mountain Bike Trip video is an excellent start.

Mountain Biking Essentials:
  • Waterproof Jacket
  • Helmet
  • Tool Kit
  • Headtorch and Lights
  • Cellphone or Emergency Communications device
  • Warm Clothing (Not Cotton)
  • Small survival kit + First Aid Kit
  • Map and compass/GPS
  • Hat and Gloves
  • Water and Food


  • Emergency shelter
  • Hut tickets
  • Cooking and eating equipment

pdf Basic Gear List for outdoors pdf – 207 KB

or you can find more on our Supplies section.

On your ride

Respect others on the track and follow the Mountain Bikers Code

  • Be aware of the weather - you can learn how to do this on our weather page
  • Take your time - enjoy the ride, take breaks to eat and drink - check on the group.
  • Stick together - try to stay within sight of each other, wait for each other at track junctions and communicate along the way. Put the most experienced person at the back of your group.
  • Stay alert - are you running late? When will it get dark? Do you know where you are on the track?
  • Avoid crossing rivers - if you are not experienced, choose a track that have bridges. If circumstances change, you can always turn back.

What to do next

Continue your preparation with our online resources, there is still plenty to learn to ensure for a safe and enjoyable trip!

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