Polhill Reserve Mountain Bike Trails
Spectacular innercity wilderness mountainbike adventure for fit beginners to expert riders, on superb trails.
Where: 15-20 min ride from Wellington CBD/Switched on Bikes
Time: 1.5-4 hours, depending on how far you go.
Who: Mountain bike experience not necessary but you must be a regular cyclist with good fitness, stable on the bike, and up for an adventure!
Difficulty: Grade 3. Climb around 30 min – 1 hr at mostly gentle gradients with some briefly steeper bursts. Descent on well graded single-width trail with good traction, some small trail obstacles, and optional steep sections.
Features: Spectacular views, flora and fauna, great riding, an enormous wind turbine.
Winding through beautiful regenerating native forest just 15 minutes ride from the Wellington CBD, with rare birdlife from Zealandia Wildlife Sanctuary, some of the most spectacular views of Wellington you’ll find anywhere and right next to the award winning Garage Project brewery; we think Polhill trails are among the most awesomest, most easily accessible and downright fun intermediate grade mountain bike rides that NZ has to offer.
Easy enough for a fit rider’s first introduction to mountainbiking – this is where Switched on Bikes’ staff take our friends when they want to go on their first ever mountainbike ride. Yet with available technical variations, jibbing potential and the occasional optional stunt, Polhill has enough to keep the grizzled fat-tyre shredder whooping the whole way down. Combine that with stunning views, wildlife, a visit to the Brooklyn Wind Turbine and some of the best of Wellington cafés etc right at the ride’s base – in a nutshell, Polhill kinda has it all.
That’s if you’re up for it. This is riding on what’s called single-track, which is too narrow to ride 2 abreast. In most places the ground drops steeply on one side of the trail, which can spook riders who don’t feel as solid on the bike or find stopping and starting on a slope difficult. The climb, though not steep, is still physically demanding. This is for capable bike riders with play and adventure at heart.
What you get
We’ll provide a bike, helmet, map, tools, advice, printed directions and a cellphone holder for using maps from your handlebars.
The trails are well marked and easy to find, but you will have to pay some attention to navigation throughout the ride. We recommend downloading the free Trailforks app and NZ trails data ahead of time so you can GPS it.
Directons to the trail: From Switched on Bikes, cross the big road (Jervois Quay) and post-office square. Turn left (Customhouse) and left again immediately on to Hunter Street, which curves right and becomes Victoria Street. Continue up until you reach Abel Smith Street and turn right either on your bike or using the pedestrian crossing. From here you will need to cross two busy roads, Karo Drive and Willis Street, to get to Aro Street. We recommend walking your bike across pedestrian crossings and footpaths until you reach Aro. Continue gently climbing up Aro Street, past the shops, until after a couple of bends you see the entrance to Polhill reserve in a grassy park on the left, signposted by a brown sign. The entrance to the main trail, called ‘Transient’ is at the back of the grassy clearing.
Directions on the trail: Begin riding up Transient. This is a two-way trail for walkers and cyclists so be ready to let people past and say a friendly hello! Continue uphill and follow signs for ‘Transient’ and 'Brooklyn Wind Turbine'. When Transient finally ends, you come out on a suburban street. Turn right to the big wide trail with more signposts for bikers to the wind turbine. Keep following this and you will hit the predator-proof fence (called Fenceline). Follow the fence uphill until you hit a road with a crossing point for cyclists. On the other side you'll see two trails, the lower one 'Windmill' you should take, the higher one is the exit to the downhill-only way back down so do not go up there. At the end of Windmill follow signs to the wind turbine until you emerge at, the wind turbine! After you've checked out the view and the renewable energy infrastructure, if you feel like riding further up continue along the ridgeline on 'Car Parts Extension' and then ‘Barking Emu’, or head back down now via Car Parts (not Car Parts Extension). You can ride most of the way down on downhill only trails but you will spend some time on Transient, where you’ll need to take blind corners very slowly because you could meet someone coming uphill. Take a look at the trail map we provide, or check the Trailforks app for the downhill-only trails called Car Parts, SPUDS, and Serendipity. All of these trails are grade 3, the same as the uphill, except Serendipity which is the last one near the bottom. Only ride Serendipity if you feel comfortable on all the other trails and want something harder. Don’t forget to swing past Garage Project on Aro street for a beer on your way home!
Switched on Bikes hires high-quality mountain bikes 7 days a week. We have hard tail and full suspension MTBs and can get you sorted with all the gear and advice you need to get riding.