NZ MTB Ride Guide: Craigeburn
Craigeburn slides under the radar for many Australian mountain bikers when planning their New Zealand riding holiday. I mean, it's a bit out of the way, there's no shuttling and not much of a town to base yourself in. But, the trails are incredible!
The trails at Craigeburn aren't as clear cut and easy to get to as others in NZ, trail forks is your best friend here. Arthur's Pass itself is about 45 minutes from the trails and has accommodation and basic resources for riders but we recommend you stock up on food, water, bike spares etc. before you get to this point.
If you're looking for accommodation with solid walls Arthur's Pass will have the best selection of options nearby. If you're lucky enough to be in a van / camper you can even camp right at the bottom of the trails! Although be warned the black sand flies can be pretty hazardous. The Lake Pearson camp site just fifteen minutes down the road has incredible views of the lake and public toilets available, highly recommended.
You're well and truly up there in the mountains riding the Craigieburn trails and as a result you need to come prepared. Depending on the length of your planned ride take a minimum of 1.5L water with you in whatever hydration option you prefer. A flat tyre or minor mechanical at the top of your run will ruin your ride without tools / spares. Bring an extra tube, tyre levers, inflation device, multi-tool and if you can fit anything else in without weighing yourself down significantly bring it along. Last but not least, food. You'll be burning up your energy on those climbs so replenish it frequently with snacks and high energy food.
Although there are some blue trails at the lower parts of the mountains the overall difficulty at Craigieburn is very high. Thin ridges with major consequences and steep, rooty descents, this is not for the faint hearted and should be ridden by confident riders only. Due to the alpine conditions it's recommended you are well aware of weather conditions and don't ride in hazardous, unstable weather.
Edge Track - Black - In case the name didn't give it away the tracks follows the edge of the steep mountain face for pretty much the whole way. As a result you have some amazing views as you descend but don't get distracted, coming off on this track can have serious consequences! take it easy and work your way down this one.
Luge Track - Blue - Best accessed from Lyndon Saddle (turn right at the end of Edge Track) Luge track is silly amounts of fun. Covered in roots and at a comfortable gradient the whole way down you'll find yourself pumping over the terrain to generate speed and find natural doubles.
Drakopyhllum Flat - Blue- Although this track has a few fun little sections this is really just a traverse to the other trails. You can miss it all together by jumping in the car and driving down the road to the bottom of 'Cockayne Alley' saving the legs.
Cockayne Alley - Black - A fun, direct downhill descent to get the heart rate up. You'll start in the open with great views on a clear day, weaving your way though the alpine terrain. Drop into the woods and you're faced with steep, tighter terrain that will be rough and hard!
If you have the time and an adventurous appetite Craigeburn is well worth exploring. Mountain bikers from all across Australia will appreciate the unique experience that this terrain gives you!