Only a bunnyhop from Christchurch’s CBD lies a bonafide playground for anyone looking to get their downhill mountain bike fix — whether you’re after a flowy beginner trail or bum-tightening jump tracks. Oh, and you can hurl down a zipline for km’s too, if you’re game. Welcome to Christchurch Adventure Park.
- A vast network of mountain bike trails to suit newbies through to experts
- NZ’s highest (150m) and longest (1.1km) zipline
- Take a scenic chairlift ride (you guessed it, NZ’s longest) with views of the Pacific Ocean and Southern Alps.
Christchurch Adventure Park
If you stroll through Christchurch’s CBD and look south you’ll see the Port Hills winking at you. If you look really closely, you’ll see several people travelling down the mountain at speed — either on mountain bikes or a zip line. You’re looking at the Christchurch Adventure Park, the world’s first purpose-built year-round mountain bike park. You’d be a nutter to not experience a wild day out here if you’re in the area.
Driving from the town centre took approximately 20 minutes (surely a record for adventure proximity in a major city?) and before I knew it I was parked up and strolling through a pine forest and getting rigged up on a top grade mountain bike, more specifically a Giant Glory.
The Mountain Bike Trails
If there’s one thing I love about trail parks, its the names of the runs. The Christchurch Adventure Park is no different. There’s a sense that each and every run has a peculiarly amusing story behind it; likely one that involved some kind of flesh wound, or at the very least an emptying of the adrenal gland.
The parks caters for people of all abilities — with options for novices as well as highly technical runs for those who enjoy airborne travel at speed over large mounds of dirt
At the newbie end you’ve got ‘Non-Compliant’, ‘Flying Nun’ and my personal favourite ‘Yeah Yeah Gnar’ while the aptly named black runs ‘Shredzilla’ and ‘Throw The Goat’ shout their hardcore vibe to the pines.
Once rigged up in a full-face helmet, shin guards and gloves I began to believe I actually knew what I was doing. I was quite literally brought crashing down to earth on the opening Blue run of the day, before deciding I was genetically closer to a slug than Danny MacAskill. I spent the next 4 hours identifying a few runs more aligned to my skills and bruised ego. And I had the time of my life.
The Zip Line
If travelling down the mountain on two-wheelers doesn’t cut the mustard for you, you can fly down instead. It’s a 2.5 hour tour along four separate zip lines, each dual lined so you can take on your mate whilst attempting your finest Peter Pan impression. Like cakey wakey at a two years old’s birthday, the best is saved for last too; a 150m high, 1.1km experience through towering pine forest. ‘Twas as amazing as it sounds.
Just Want To Hike?
If you’d rather stick to walking, it’s actually free to enter the park and hike the trails up to the top where you can enjoy panoramic views of the South Island and get the chairlift back down free of charge. You can also grab a beer in the village. Sadly, the beer is not free of charge. There are also plethora of other walks in the Port Hills to check to feed an insatiable hiking appetite.
The Phoenix Rising From The Ashes
Having opened at the end of 2016, the Christchurch Adventure Park symbolised the region’s earthquake recovery efforts. The park was a feat of global significance however the celebrations were short live for only 2 months later a devastating fire tore across the mountain and wiped out key infrastructure (buildings, chairlifts and ziplines) as well as a large chunk of the forest that bound the trails together.
It takes more than that to keep a kiwi down. The response by the park, its staff and the community has been unreal, with nearly everything rebuilt and open up again by the end of 2017 with (even) better views throughout the park and a heap of new trails in the mix.
How To Get There
It takes roughly 20mins to drive to the adventure park from the centre of Christchurch but with limited car parking spaces it’s highly recommended to consider cycling there using the well marked bike trails (40mins), good old fashioned car-pooling or taking the bus.
The nearest bus stop is 349 Hoon Hay Road (Cashmere) which leaves a 30min walk to the park. Buses run from 6.16am to 10.39pm and you can plan your route here.
- Mountain biking
Eager-eyed beginners to advanced shredders, depending entirely on your downhill appetite. It’s best to have a chin-wag with the team in the pro shop so they can give you trail updates and let you know which ones are most suitable given your experience level. You can also take it one step further and do one-to-one or group lessons so you can hone your skills.
You’ll have more than 50km of trail to explore and attempt to perfect — it’s one helluva day out but you could easily spend years here improving your technique and speed.
For all the latest news, prices and information, check out the Christchurch Adventure Park website.
Pack down the bike and take it somewhere rad