Explore one of the hidden gems of the Central Otago region the Naseby Forest trails
Central Otago is renowned for its mountain biking. With oodles of trail, it has built a solid reputation as one of the country’s must-do mountain biking destinations. Tucked away in the foothills of the Mount Ida range, the Naseby Forest trails are a hidden gem in a region of mountain biking jewels.
Just a short detour off the highway, add this to the itinerary if passing through the region. It’s a worthwhile inclusion if you’re in the area for the Otago Central rail trail or happen to be kicking about and in need of a singletrack fix.
The trails have a very distinct feel thanks to being contained within a forest. This is a pleasant change as most of the other trails in the region are quite exposed to the elements. The entire trail system is built the old fashioned way, with hand tools by a small group of very passionate local riders. They have personality that is missing from the bigger machine built trails - they vary in width, there are roots and off camber lines that are fun because they are different. Liken it to the quirky uncle at the family gathering, fun in a slightly off kilter way. Being located in a working forest, trail builders work closely with forestry to reroute, add or close trails to accommodate the areas that are due to be felled.
The trails range from easy routes along aqueducts, to steep lines with committing entries and exits. Naseby itself is a cool little town as well – somewhere plenty of people have a holiday home. The local pub does a good meal, and is a great place to warm up after a ride in the cooler months of the year.
Naseby is situated eight kilometres off State HWY85, a two-hour car journey east from Queenstown. Once in Naseby the trails are accessed from the end of Earne Street in the centre of town.
Pine forest vibes that are reminiscent of the older trails in Majura Pines, Canberra. There is lots of rolling terrain with fun corners, short technical descents, some roots and some rocks - all with multiple lines to make the area beginner friendly.
Add speed into the mix and the trails take on a life that will keep more advanced riders engaged, tightening up the corners and creating cool gaps over the rises and roots.
Not to be missed is the Sandpit trail, the oldest standing section and quintessential to the Naseby Forest experience. This section is absolutely dialled, using the natural fall of the land. It playfully uses all the drainages converting it into a natural rollercoaster that you ride all the way back into town.
Pack the usual spares for a day on the trails, although there is a General Store for those last minute trail snacks. Most importantly, there are a couple of cafés for pre-ride lattes and pubs for post ride celebrations.
The forest contains 50km worth of singletrack with fire trails giving access to various areas within the park. Options are available to link up a couple of trails for a 40-minute razz - or head out for full day. There is more than enough trail to not have to ride the same section twice.
There is also scope for pretty epic back country/gravel grind adventures in the surrounding mountains if you are that way inclined.
Toilets -Yes. Toilet block situated in the town centre
Drinking Water - Yes. Toilet block situated in the town centre
Park up in the centre of town and trails start at the end of the main street.
Unfortunately there is no trail map and trails are predominantly unmarked, though recent grants will see signage improved over the coming year. The “TrailForks” app is a great resource for getting about in the forest and its surrounds.
Telstra – yes (on roaming)
Optus - yes (on roaming)
Shelter: not on the trails
BBQ Facilities: no
Naseby has a full range of accommodation from campsites through to private lodges. We stayed, and ate, at Naseby Lodge, which has really comfortable self-catered accommodation, and the 2000ft restaurant. www.nasebylodge.co.nz
General info is available from any of the Information Centres in the Otago region. But for the full lowdown, your best bet is to drop by the Naseby Lodge and speak to Kila Hepi, the man behind all the trails.
BEST TIME OF YEAR
December to April. It can get pretty chilly so be prepared for cool weather. There was fresh snow on the surrounding peaks when we visited in December!
WHILE IN THE AREA
Check out the Maniototo curling rink, the only specialised indoor rink in the southern hemisphere. Good for a laugh and cooling down after a day on the trails.
Spin the legs on the Otago Central Rail Trail and treat yourself to a few guilt-free beers or latte stops.
LOCAL BIKE SHOPS
No bike shops in town so bring your own spares. Alexandra, 90km to the west, has well-stocked shops.
LOCAL CLUB CONTACTS
MBO - Mountain Biking Otago mountainbikingotago.co.nz
12 Hour Naseby Challenge.