When we make the effort and take the time to go for a ride with kids, we want it to be an enjoyable experience. To have a ‘great day’ on the bike with kids there are simple things to think about, plan and do.

In this story we are riding in the – Craters of the Moon Mountain Bike Park (Taupo) on some of the beginner to intermediate tracks with Rhea 9yrs old – mountain bikes occasionally, Isaac 6yrs old – mountain bikes occasionally.
Supporting you and your family to SMILE when you ride.
youth mountain bike helmet

Where is it?  What is there?

Craters Mountain Bike Park is a purpose-built mountain bike park located only a short distance from Taupo town, with trails ranging from children’s entry level to technical cross country and downhill trails.  As the mountain bike park is located 10kms out of Taupo most people drive to the carpark, 500m off Wairakei Drive up Karapiti Road, and start their riding from there.  But there are bike tracks to ride out to it.

Craters Mountain Bike Park has around 50km of bike trails to suit all abilities. There are plenty of options to choose from, allowing you to escape for just an hour or two or have a full day on the trails.

Before riding in the mountain bike park you must be a Bike Taupo member, annual and visitor passes are available from Taupo cycling shops (Top Gear Cycles, Avantiplus Taupo), The Hub Kitchen Cafe, or online from Bike Taupo (see previous link).  If you need to hire bikes see Avantiplus Taupo, Tread RoutesTop Gear Cycles or Pack & Pedal.

There is a map board at the carpark and but it’s always a good idea to carry a map the first few time you ride in a new environment.  Forests can be very confusing to ride through and if there are lots of junctions you will soon get lost.  Maps are available for $5 at local cycle shops, The Hub Kitchen Cafe or online.  The Bike Skills section is not marked on the maps. You will find it on Track 32, Scraggs/Track 33 Scraggs Routine.  Check over the board in the carpark as there are some route suggestions you may want to consider.

Here is the link to Bike Taupo where you will find the map and info outlining Craters of the Moon, Wairakei Forest

The ride – is it doable for you?

This park has something for everyone. It is a matter of working out what will work best for your family.  For first time riders the layout of a bike park can be confusing so find a map and study it before you go.

Biking Distance?  The length of this ride is entirely at your discretion you have approximately 50km of grade 2 to grade 5 single track to choose from but if your kids don’t mountain bike as a sport they will be restricted to the easy to moderate tracks.

Biking Surface/Biking Skills required/Level of biking fitness: The beginner tracks are short and loop you back close to the carpark so time and distance shouldn’t be an issue.  Basic mountain biking skills will be needed but again the easiest tracks are well designed for beginners just be aware of other track users.  The biking surface in mountain bike parks is varied but mainly compact dirt with a few gravel or pine needle sections and some tree roots to contend with. All trails run in and out of exotic pine and eucalyptus plantations. The volcanic pumice soils allow for year round riding with free draining qualities that are not found anywhere else in New Zealand.

Taupo’s mountain bike park has a bike skills section which includes see saws, raised wooden structures, drop offs which is s fun way to learn.

Can you ride with Kids Attached? This is a ride that you can enjoy with kids being towed or attached to your bike.

Some additional support may help get the kids riding in Caters of the Moon Mountain Bike Park.

    • For independent riders : The Tow Whee Tow Rope may help assist getting them up a hill, or keeping up with older siblings.
    • Attached to your bike: The Shotgun offers you the ability to enjoy the mountain biking park with your younger kids. You will need to ride to your ability making sure you are keeping them safe.
Craters of the moon

Example of the sign posts telling you about the track you are riding.

Some Trails that our group enjoyed.

For younger and/or beginner riders:

We rode in the easier, forested section next to the carpark for an hour exploring the Green/Blue Tracks like Tourist Trap, Piker, Ferret and Return to Sender.

We then had lunch and rode in the area across the road, again for approximately an hour.  Climbing Tank Down and descending on Walters Wiggles.

Once we had returned to the carpark and had a chat with the chairman of Bike Taupo – a chance encounter as he collected donations from the box – we spent a further 30 mins on the bike skills track.

For confident beginners to intermediate riders:

Bike Skills Track (Scraggs – Track 32/33) behind carpark.  The kids had a blast on this well thought out track (so did Dad).  They rode over and off things that initially looked scary to them – what a great confidence boost.  These types of bike skill obstacles create great learning environments – testing balance and decision making skills.  The whole idea is to play around and get used to the feel of your bike and body moving together.  Also to try things several times and watch what other people do.

Fun flowing, flat riding on Tourist Trap

Kids enjoying riding trails to match their level

Interesting skill sections and obstacles on Scaggs

Be safe and comfortable when riding in Craters of the Moon Mountain Bike Park.

How far you are venturing away from your base will determine the amount of gear you need to carry. As the riding network is quite extensive it is good to be prepared so you can manage any situation. Whether that be an injury, energy or water requirements. Also the option of layers to ensure everyone is riding at a comfortable temperature.

Enjoy the experience and have fun

Some things to look out for on the

  • The skills track (Scaggs) was a highlight for the kids, spending time completely sections and watching each other
  • Huka Falls…across Wairakei Drive… can be ridden to from the mountain bike park via an underpass…on Track 18, Tunnel Trac
  • Let the kids lead the way.  Let them find the tracks and work out what signs and names they should look for along the way.  The signs in this mountain bike park are well done so are perfect for those new to map reading.
  • A picnic lunch under the cover of the trees.  We found a spot off to the side of a track and munched on our lunch.  The kids discovered what great water glasses oranges make…

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