Dunedin is well endowed with mountain-bike tracks,
thanks to the efforts of Mountain Bike Otago. Led by president
Hamish Seaton, the club negotiates access to suitable land and
builds between 5km and 10km of tracks each year, funding the
projects by running events and seeking grants and sponsorship.
John Fridd gets on his bike to take a look.
The 1km Jubilee Park track winds through native trees in
While the tracks are built by mountain bikers predominantly
for mountain bikers, runners and walkers are also welcomed on
to the tracks, giving them new and interesting places to
In this two-part series on tracks in central Dunedin, we will
look at four mountain-bike parks. Today we visit Jubilee Park
and Signal Hill.
1. Jubilee Park
Close to the heart of the city in leafy Belleknowes, this
track was designed and developed by a group led by former MTB
Otago president the late Trevor Gerrish in the early '90s to
provide a track where Joe Public could try mountain biking
without scaring himself silly or having to tackle huge
climbs. The track winds through the trees surrounding Jubilee
Park's playing field and has plenty of ups and downs and
twists and turns to make your ride fun and help develop your
The 1km loop is rated ''beginners'', so it is a great place
to start if you haven't taken your mountain bike off-road
I always approach the track from the Maori Rd end. Ride on to
the playing field beside the hedge (squeeze around the
barrier) and follow the hedge around to the right until you
see a small pavilion. The track starts in the long grass to
the left of the pavilion. Once on the track, ride down
through the trees above Serpentine Ave. Watch the ''bike
stairs'' descent, as it can be slippery if wet and if you go
down too fast the hard left turn at the bottom of the descent
can be a problem.
Halfway around the circuit you will hit a junction where two
bike tracks and a walking path meet. Take the left-hand bike
track (note the bike tracks are marked by blue symbols). Once
on the bike track, you will soon meet a junction. Here I
usually go right, as this track is more interesting. In this
area there are several track options, so just follow your
nose and sooner or later you will arrive back at the park
entrance. There are some steep little climbs, which will give
you a chance to practise your gear-changing.
2. Signal Hill - The Big Easy
Mountain bikers have been building tracks on this hill above
Logan Park High School since the 1980s, from scary downhills
used for national events and technical cross-country courses
to the latest addition, a winding track called the Big Easy,
which is suitable for most abilities.
At the bottom, to find the track, ride up the sealed road at
the left of the high school and take the track into the bush
when you reach it. This will bring you out on to the top
field. Continue up the left and side of the field and you
will see the track entrance in the trees. The bottom part of
this track has been undergoing maintenance in recent months,
so if it is still closed, take the bypass - turn right and
ride across the field, then up the steep four-wheel-drive
track. After a 600m grunt, sticking to the main 4WD track,
you will reach the Big Easy and can start your ride up to the
top. If you are a beginner, don't be fooled by the ''easy''
tag - this ride involves a character-building
240-vertical-metres climb to the Centennial Monument.
However, the track snakes back and forth across the hillside,
so it is rideable by almost everyone and when you get to the
top you will be amazed how far you have climbed.
Once you reach the monument, reward yourself with a break.
Take in the Dunedin City panorama and admire the bronze
figures titled ''History'' and ''The Thread of Life'' at this
monument, which marks New Zealand's centenary in 1940.
Now comes the fun part - while the Big Easy may have been not
so easy on the way up, going down it is transformed into a
thrilling roller-coaster. Your speed on the descent will be
limited only by your nerve, skill and the quality of your
bike's suspension. Watch for riders coming up, as this is a
Coming up: Wakari MTB Park and the Bethunes
Gully/Forrester Park tracks.