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Take the back road: Riding out the back of Bike Glendhu

Bike Glendhu might be most well-known for our iconic views from the Falcon’s Nest summit overlooking Roy’s Peak and Glendhu Bay.

But what’s often overlooked is the jaw-dropping ride up Adze Up to get to the summit. You see, to get to Falcon’s Nest there are two ways – the first is that you can ride the long, meandering way up Adze Up. The other is taking the 4WD track for a short but steep ride to the top. Some of our long-time riders actually prefer this second option.

But we wanted to shine some light on why it’s sometimes better to take your time and take the long way around. Here’s what you’re in for around the back of Bike Glendhu.

A rider on Adze Up at Bike Glendhu

 

HEADING OFF

For those who have been to Bike Glendhu before, the first part of your journey will begin normally enough. You’ll leave Base 334 and go up the standard climb trail to Jack’s Spot. Once there, be sure to check out our Jack’s Spot info board which is part of a series of installations we’ve set up this season at key points of the park. Each of them tells a unique story and gives insight into why that particular location is special.

The view of Jack's Spot and Lake Wanaka at Bike Glendhu

At Jack’s the board will tell you the story of how the area was named after John (Jack) Lethbridge McRae, who is the grandfather of current landowner John McRae. It talks about why Jack’s Spot is so special to the McRae family and the evolution of the land from farming to bike park.

 

MONSOON HOON

From Jack’s Spot, you’ll continue up Switch It Up to The Crossing. Now this is where things get pretty fun. To get around to the back of Bike Glendhu from here, you’ll need to go down Monsoon Hoon. This is a fun, flowy trail with cruisey berms, little kickers and the odd (optional) rock feature. You can really pick up some speed here if you want to, as you rip across the mountain.

At the bottom, you’ll come to Stags Point with views out to the Motatapu Valley and Motatapu Station. The Motatapu (meaning “sacred river”) was used by early Māori as an access route for food gather and moving precious pounamu.

The Motatapu Station is perhaps best known as the former New Zealand residence of Shania Twain, which she purchased back in 2005. The entire property, consisting of Motatapu, Mt. Soho, Glencoe and Coronet Peak stretches over 55,000 hectares!

Motatapu Station view from Bike Glendhu

The building that you’ll see crested on the hill is now called Mahu Whenua Ridgeline Homestead.

But don’t stop there, because the views have only just begun. After a bit of downhill, it’s now time for the big climb up Adze Up.

 

UPWARD BOUND

Adze Up was purpose-built with a gradient perfect for meandering along and taking in the view. As you criss-cross along the backcountry trail, look across the valley to spot Treble Cone Ski Area and down into the Matukituki Valley; the gateway to Mount Aspiring National Park. The crown jewel of the National Park, Tititea Mt. Aspiring stands at 3,033m and from this vantage point is hidden just behind Fog Peak.

A mountain biker rides up Adze Up at Bike Glendhu

Directly below your climb, you’ll no doubt take note of the Motatapu River which meets with the Matukituki River and eventually flows into Lake Wānaka. There were once several Māori villages in this area and one such small village, called Nehenehe, sat at this junction of the Motatapu and Matukituki rivers where there was an abundance of tuna (eels), aruhe (bracken fern root), birds and taewa (Māori potato).

Be sure to stop at the Mt. Aspiring Valley View info board for a quick rest and to read about the Māori legend of Tititea Mt. Aspiring.

 

THE SUMMIT

Breathe a sigh of relief and take in those iconic 360 views when you finally reach Falcon’s Nest – the summit of Bike Glendhu. You’ll have no doubt earned it.

Casey Brown rides up to the summit of Bike Glendhu

Falcon’s Nest sits 757m above sea level and overlooks beautiful Lake Wānaka, which was carved out by glaciers over the last 2 million years. In fact, the town itself sits on a glacial moraine formed approximately 10,000 years ago as the glaciers retreated up the valley.

According to Māori legend, Lake Wānaka was dug up by the Waitaha explorer Rākaihautū with his kō (a Polynesian digging stick) named Tūwhakaroria. The first known map of Lake Wānaka was drawn in 1844 by the southern Ngāi Tahu leader Te Huruhuru.

The summit view from Bike Glendhu

Falcon’s Nest was so named for the kārearea (falcons) that reside there. If you’ve made your way up there between August and December, you may encounter some protective swooping during the nesting season – so keep an eye out and respect their habitat.

Again, while at Falcon’s Nest, be sure to spot the info board there to learn about each of the peaks and islands in view. They all have stories to tell.

Casey Brown rides the summit at Bike Glendhu

 

THE DOWNHILL REWARD

We highly recommend bringing a light snack with you to refuel at the summit before you reap the sweet reward of the epic downhill track Upper Baywatch.

With over 1.5km of super fun flow and a few optional features, Upper Baywatch will bring you into the Crossing where you can choose from a range of trails back to Jack’s Spot like Lower Baywatch, Vol. 2 or the Black Pearl. You can also ride Monsoon Hoon again to Rocky Borrow Show or Methane Train – or even take another lap back to the top.

Mid Baywatch at Bike Glendhu

 

If you’re new to mountain biking or just want a more leisurely ride to the top, we highly recommend renting an ebike from Bike Glendhu’s on-site fleet. You can book those online here.

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