Date: Tuesday 9th January 2024
Location: Waiu Street, Wainuiomata, Lower Hutt
With several bike rides under our belt we fancied ourselves ready for mountain biking. While on holiday we had a quick ride through the Redwoods in Rotorua and it turned out to be a lot more technical and a lot more fun, than we'd originally assumed. In Rotorua we'd found a skills park to practice jumps, downhill and biking across narrow wooden structures. When we returned home, we set out to find ourselves some beginners tracks around Wellington to continue our biking adventures. We quickly learnt that beginner tracks are always marked in Green (and the next level up is Light Blue, any other colour is an absolute no for us...yet).
The first of these was the Wetlands Circuit at the Wainuiomata Mountain Bike Park. We don't have a Go-Pro or anything like it so we couldn't get many pictures without risking grievous bodily harm (harm comes anyway as we found, but not necessarily grievous).
There were heaps of amenities at the carpark including a fountain, a toilet and very clear maps of the park. The tracks are well made and the signage is amazing, well done Wainuiomata Trail Project.
There were also several wooden and concrete blocks to practice our skills on. Having only fallen off the practice structures once we fancied ourselves ready for the loop.
Mountain biking is not like road biking with kids, as we learnt very quickly going around the Wetlands :)
First: don't try to stay too close to each other, stopping distance is required.
Second: stop at every fork so no one gets lost (lots of the parks have numerous trails and we didn't want to have anyone get lost this early on).
Third: Always follow the trail directions as it's much better to have a skilled super star approach you from behind than head on.
The Wetland Loop is very easy by most standards, except for ours. It is well marked so keep an eye out for the beginners green signage. We started going anticlockwise and made several left turns until we reached the boardwalk for our first stop on the way up.
It pays to note that some of the track connects the advanced tracks to the carpark, so be on the lookout for superstars. We noticed that we could usually hear them coming (our lack of 'speed' didn't muffle theirs).
You keep heading up and around, selecting the Wetlands path until you come to the apex where there is an opening for another breather. Given our relative newness to the sport we were not ready for the cardio required to get us up here so we sat for a spell.
Going down however was quite a different story...
The first-time, we made it all the way round in 20 minutes. We all decided that we could do better so we had another go and without so many stops and wrong turns we managed to do it in 12 minutes. The second time saw far more hooting and hollering.
Elated with our progress so far we saw the Meandering Mile was also graded green, so we thought we'd have a crack at that too. Back up the now familiar beginning of the Wetland Circuit, we took a right and huffed and puffed up the zig zag of the Second Star to reach the beginning of the Meandering Mile.
The Meandering Mile was quite narrow in places (for us newbies), so we had to concentrate quite hard to stay on the track. It's a beautiful bush track though, that wanders up and down behind the houses of Wainui on the Eastern Hill). There were a couple of creek crossings, sharp turns and bridges which the kids loved. We were getting tied though and eventually we decided we were teetering on someone having an accident so should head back.
We didn't get to the end, apparently it takes you to the top of the hill (to the more serious mountain bike tracks). We took a shortcut on our way back down to Kairangi Crescent and returned to the carpark via the backroads of Parkway.
Below is our AllTrails of the Wetland Loop. We didn't managed to capture the Meandering Mile, we were having too much fun.
What we've learned is that mountain biking is very different to the off road biking we had previously done. Even on the beginners tracks it takes more stamina and focus. The Wetlands was great as it was a nice safe space for us to figure all this out. We learned about buddies, back braking (not just front or you go over the handle bars). We learned how to pace ourselves and avoid other riders.
We're now ready to try more beginners tracks in the region and look forward to blogging about them.
Thanks Wainuiomata, not only do you have spectacular bushwalks, but also amazing bike trails! :)
Age of Kids: 9yr and 11yrs
Biking Time: About 12min
Dogs Allowed: Not allowed
Difficulty: Beginner Mountain Biking (Green). It's a mountain bike track so you need to know how to confidently bike first.
Phone Reception: Yes