Pedal power

Whether you use one for a paddle, picnic or professional purposes, a bike is perfect.

Participate in Bike Wise Month this February by pedalling through one of the many cycle tracks available. Photo / Thinkstock
Participate in Bike Wise Month this February by pedalling through one of the many cycle tracks available. Photo / Thinkstock

February is Bike Wise Month, the country's biggest celebration of two-wheeled, people-powered transport. This is the month for would-be peddlers of all ages to saddle up and head to one of the many events being held throughout the country, or just take in some spectacular local scenery.

To get you started the Bike Wise organisers at the Transport Agency have come up with 10 must-do family-friendly bike tracks.

* Ninety Mile Beach, Northland: Wide, beautiful and often deserted. On a quiet day you can spread out along the beach or ride abreast and chat. What's more, you can stop almost anywhere for a paddle, picnic or play.

* Woodhill Mountain Bike Park, Auckland: This is New Zealand's longest-running purpose-built mountainbiking destination. As well as the huge trail network, they have great BMX jumps and tracks. It is a fun, safe (how risky it is is up to the rider), recreational destination for all ages and abilities.

* Project Twin Streams, Auckland: An award-winning network of cycleways along the Oratia, Opanuku and Waikumete streams in west Auckland. The 3m-wide paths offer ample space for all users. There are tiled artworks, community art installations, information panels and examples of sustainable products, such as permeable paving and solar lighting. More information at projecttwinstreams.com

* Whakarewarewa, Rotorua: Described as the "Disneyland of mountainbiking", Whakarewarewa contains some of the best purpose-built mountainbike trails in New Zealand. The crafted trails are an unbeatable mix of riding surfaces and scenery. With 90km of continually evolving trails, there is something to cater for all levels.

* Eskdale Mountain Bhead supplied ike Park, Napier: This is the premier spot, pictured, to ride on the North Island's east coast. There are more than 50 named trails, averaging 1km in length. Most are two-way and signposted. The tracks start from grade 2, so make sure the kids have some confidence before they head out. If they're beginners, Napier's long, flat boardwalk is a great place to learn.

* Wellington Bays and South Coast, Wellington: An enjoyable, scenic ride that hugs Wellington's vibrant, sometimes rugged south coast. With historic sites to check out along the way, you can enjoy just a portion of it, around the boardwalk of the bays or tackle the full four hours from the wind turbine car park in the city to the Karori Wildlife Sanctuary.

* Makara, Wellington: For the more adventurous, head to Makara Peak Mountain Park. Located out the back of Karori, it offers 25km of purpose-built single track.

* Avon River, Christchurch: Christchurch has several river rides and mountainbike parks. The Avon River ride takes you from city to surf. This is a scenic riverside ride from Victoria Square to Southshore. The route uses low-traffic roads and offroad cycle paths switching between the north and south banks of the Avon.

* Dunedin offroad tracks: The Fulton Hogan Cycle Smart at Marlow Park, St Kilda, next to the Dinosaur Park is a great place to take the young ones. To get some good corners and a couple of jumps, head over to the Forrester Park mountainbike tracks.

* Lake Wanaka Tracks, Central Otago: Every rider will find something here, all within riding distance of the town centre. Grab an icecream or a hot chocolate before hitting the trails.

HAVE A GO

There are hundreds of events happening around the country throughout Bike Wise Month including:

* Go By Bike Day, Wednesday, February 16: Try biking to work or school instead of going in the car. Breakfast events - including free food and entertainment - are being held in more than 50 locations around the country.

* Mayoral Challenge: Held on weekend throughout the month New Zealand towns and cities compete for the honour of the most "Cycle Mad City" by having as many people as possible follow their mayor on a gentle bike ride.

* Bike Wise Challenge: Open to any New Zealand organisation, this is a fun, free, online competition running through this month that encourages organisations to get their staff on their bikes for Bike Wise.

* For more events visit bikewisechallenge.co.nz

* Council websites around the country hold information and maps to the best local tracks.

- NZ Herald

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