Last week our company CEO visited from the USA. He's a keen cyclist so we invited him on a mountain-biking day trip to Tongariro National Park. After an early (6am) start and a long drive, we hit the trail around midday.
The weather was fantastic. Not windy and not overly warm. There was late rain predicted but we didn't see a drop of it.
The track is over 40 kilometres of mostly down hill 4WD track. You can view a profile on the embedded map below. It's not really technical at all, except for a few little places. Of the eight of us that made the trip, only five crashed. Interestingly the three least experienced cyclists (me included) were the ones that didn't!
There's a nice spot for lunch at the 13km mark.
Riding down hills for 3+ hours is actually pretty stressful and tiring. The muscle pain doesn't show in the photographs...
Here's an embedded map of the journey. Click "view elevation" to see the height profile.
We all made it back to Wellington around 11pm, where it was raining.
I would recommend this track to anyone who is reasonably fit and experienced on a mountain bike. The up-hills are not difficult but they can be a bit long. You'll need to keep the pace up on the down-hills in order to finish the track in reasonable time. Our total time on the track was about six hours, including a number of breaks.
One thing to keep in mind - at times the track was very busy with quad bike and motorcycle traffic. This is unfortunate, because these vehicles are intimidating and rip up the trail. At one point on a big down hill, I caught up to a quad bike in front, and another appeared just a few metres behind me. Stuck in the middle. At this point, moving at around 40kph down hill on gravel, I couldn't slow or stop for fear of being taken out from behind. Fortunately, I hit a patch of mud and slid off to the side into the bushes, out of harm's way :)
And there was a motorcyclist who deliberately gunned his throttle and sprayed stones over me on his way past. Thanks for that - you're a pretty special person.
Apart from that, it was a great day out!