Ashburton Cycling Trails

I’m not sure how I got talked into it. All I can say is that Bruce from Experience Mid Canterbury is a persuasive guy. Somehow last week, Kaye and I found ourselves straddling our bikes (first time in at least two years for me!), strapping on helmet and sunglasses; clipping on water bottles and heading out to check out our local cycling trails.

The Ashburton River Trail has numerous access points, so butt-cheeks clenched, we joined it from the end of Chalmers Ave, aiming our bikes towards the coast. It had rained the day before so the track was a bit slippery. The smell of pine was strong as we pushed off, but we were soon distracted by the stunningly beautiful track. Giant willows overhung the trail; there are gorgeous native trees and plantings; the birdlife was ever-present; even a few hares (or are they rabbits?) as well as bees and just the odd mossie (it had just rained, remember!)

I found it a surprisingly easy track to ride, following the river out to the sea. Since we were cycling mid-week, Kaye and I had the trail mostly to ourselves, but I have friends who consider this their favourite family outing. I’m not surprised! You do have to watch out for the odd protruding tree root which could easily land you on your rear, and there are a few bumps and dips, but overall it’s quite a gentle, rolling course. Of course you can amp it up and ‘go like the clappers’ if you wish – especially if you’re a seasoned rider and have the track all to yourself!

I love that you can join it from so many different points and just cycle small sections at a time, or go all the way from the Tinwald Bridge right through to the Coast. We were not quite up to cycling the entire 28k’s – or back, but having dusted our bikes off, we might just have to make it a regular office outing!

If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, why not head for the hills and cycle through the spectacular high country of the Hakatere Conversation Park, or there are NUMEROUS trails to take around Methven and Mount Hutt.

Lake Hood Trail is another family-friendly, short, sweet ride along the banks of the Ashburton River. Starting from the south side of the bridge, it’s a lovely ride to the lake, and of course once you’re there, there’s no better place to just lie back at the water’s edge and enjoy whatever is happening on the water.

I also have it on very good authority that the Lake Emma to Lake Camp track is another amazing, family-friendly ride – one I’ve yet to experience!

A great couple of days at the office, even if I do still have a slightly tender rear end!

If you’d like to know more about the local cycling trails or find access points, visit and check out cycling adventures.


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Judy McAuliffe is a writer, and publisher Essence Mid Canterbury. Her experience in media is extensive and includes approximately 15 years as Creative Director for The Radio Network, writing, and managing the writing of radio advertising, mainly in Invercargill and Greymouth. In the late 1990’s she transferred to Christchurch, moving into an Account Management role with 91ZM. In 2007 she and a business partner set up Essence Mid Canterbury, very quickly adapting her radio-writing skills to print media. Judy became sole owner of Essence Mid Canterbury in June 2014. Judy is a ‘people person’ and has found her niche writing feature stories about the community she lives in and the people who live there. She is also available for freelance writing assignments.