This 47km, grade 3 mountain biking track climbs through Longwood Forest to the very top of Bald Hill - one of the best lookout points in Southland.
For those who are looking for longer, scenic rides to challenge their fitness this 4-day itinerary around Southland’s dramatic landscape offers the perfect setting for your next cycling holiday, showcasing untouched forests, fertile farmlands and rugged coastlines.
If you are after epic ‘Welcome Rock’ mountain biking trails, backcountry adventures or rides through native forests, then Southland has something for you!
Bald Hill Mountain Biking
Start your holiday off in Western Southland. Widely recognised by adventurers for its exceptional surfing, wonderful hiking tracks, and great fishing but what only few know is that the Bald Hill Mountain Biking track is one of the best in the region.
The 47-kilometre, grade 3 mountain bike trail winds its way through Longwood Forest to the summit of Bald Hill, one of Southland's greatest lookout sites with views of the Southland Plains, Fiordland, and Stewart Island.
Follow Knutsford Road north of Otautau until you reach 4-wheel drive gravel roads, or take Jubilee-Hill Road north of Otautau. From there, the trail continues on to Bald Hill, with lots of additional bikeable forestry roads along the route.
Access to Bald Hill and is via privately owned land and can only be accessed by way of permit from (03) 211 1290.
Head back to the Otautau Hotel for a well-deserved dinner and drinks. Whether you are after some Stewart Island Blue Cod or their famous chicken sandwich, the menu is very extensive with something to suit all taste buds. Why not stay the night while you are here! The Otautau Hotel will greet you with old-fashioned pub hospitality. All guests receive a complimentary continental breakfast, and all rooms have free view television so you can sit back and relax before your adventure tomorrow.
Borland & The Grebe Valley
From Otautau, travel west through rugged Southland farmland, past small towns, beautiful rivers and lush native forests to Borland.
The Borland Lodge area offers a few awesome mountain biking rides that are great for riders with a good level of fitness. The Borland Saddle ride is a 15 kilometre steady climb on the gravel road up to the 990m summit. Take in the spectacular mountain and beech forest views, before enjoying the ride back down the hill to the lodge. Take care as vehicles also use this road.
For the more adventurous, follow the road from the Borland Saddle to the South Arm of Lake Manapouri, an 80 kilometre return ride back to Borland Lodge. From the Borland Saddle, you drop down to the Grebe Valley, ride past the Grebe River Bridge and on towards the lake. Give yourself a bit of time to refresh and have a look around before heading back along the undulating road with a final climb back up to the Saddle before a coast downhill to the lodge.
Pick up your car and make the 40 minute drive to Manapouri to stay at your accommodation for the night. Kepler Mountain View Alpaca Cottages offer a well-appointed, contemporary self-contained cottage on a remote 12 acre alpaca farm on the fringes of Lake Manapouri. Perfect for the early morning start departing from Lake Manapouri.
Welcome Rock Trails
Southland will not disappoint those who are keen to push the limits. Welcome Rock Trails allows riders to step it up a notch with 27 kilometres of grade 3 single-track mountain bike trails.
Drive from Manapouri to Welcome Rock, crossing Central Southland through spectacular Southland farmland. Make sure to stop at the Coffee Bomb in Garston and try their famous Bacon Butties before continuing onto Welcome Rock.
Located on a privately-owned high-country station, Welcome Rock is a hand built, single track trail that offers grand vistas west across the Eyre Mountains. Welcome Rock was created in such a way that tells a tale. The start of this ride, like any good story, grabs your interest right away with a brief hill climb to the trail's highest point at Welcome Rock. At 1000 metres above sea level, the path runs around the foot of the rock and leads to a rocky turret with views across three river catchments.
As you continue your journey down the mountain, you will descend from the top of the range and pick up the pace. As you squeeze through natural rockways and tussock bends, you pass historical huts that you can book to stay the night. These huts provide excellent views of the surrounding mountains and valleys and are equipped with an an outdoor bath from which you can spend the evening enjoying the intimate light of waning dusk.
Head South via State Highway 6 for your final adventure – Mount Bee. Stop in at the Five Rivers Café for breakfast, just a 40 minutes drive from Welcome Rock Station before turning right onto State Highway 97 signs for Te Anau. For full directions click here.
The Eyre Mountains/Taka Rä Haka Conservation Park is located south of Lake Wakatipu, between the distinguishing wet granite mountains of Fiordland and the distinctive drier schist terrain of Central Otago.
The location was dubbed Taka Rä Haka O Te Rä by the Mäori after the setting sun on the mountain summits at the end of the day.
The Eyre Mountains/Taka Rä Haka Conservation Park offers mountain bikers a one-of-a-kind opportunity to enjoy a wilderness adventure in a remote location. A network of trails and rudimentary huts (two to eight bunks) enhance the experience. The location is remote and, on the whole, physically difficult. Mount Bee offers a wonderful view of the Eyre Mountains and is well worth a visit.
The track to the Mt. Bee Huts ascends nearly 900 metres in elevation. The trail beyond the cabins is only suited for mountain bikes and tramping. The path continues along the ridge until it reaches a fork. This grade 4, 18-32km return unsealed trail takes approximately 2-5 hours to complete depending on how far you ride along the saddle.
Access to Mt Bee is on the Department of Conservation land and is restricted. Anyone requiring access by foot, bike or vehicle must seek approval from the landowner and give at least 2 days notice. Contact the landowner Ben Walling +64 27 444 6823.
With an abundance of cycling experiences, Southland is sure to have something for you. Whether you plan to bring your bike with you or rent one while you're here, you will love exploring Southlands remote beaches, native bushland, waterfalls and checking out our unique wildlife.
Explore the majestic wilderness of Fiordland, the bright lights of Invercargill, the rural farmlands of Gore and be captivated at every turn. Embrace an unforgettable journey across the stunning, dramatic landscapes that shape this unspoilt region, and we promise you are going to love every moment of this treasured piece of New Zealand.