Meet Toby Meek, local youth MTB expert

Young mountain bike champion Toby Meek moved to Queenstown two years ago. He and his brother Rory race at world championship level and Toby spent summer 2020 riding with Markus Stöckl’s MS Mondraker race team.

His parents Donna and Steve founded MeekBoyz bikes, high performance carbon downhill bikes for groms. Donna’s a biker herself and knows a thing or two about helping young mountain bikers learn to jump safely.

So, if you’re keen to get your jump on, Toby and Donna are here to give you the low down on learning to jump in Queenstown, the best places to progress your skills, and Toby’s favourite jump lines.

Preparing for your trip to Queenstown

If you’re planning a mountain biking trip to Queenstown, Donna recommends practicing jumping at home first.

“We started the boys with homemade jumps in the backyard, just a plank of wood propped up on a few bricks. They got used to the feeling of lift and learned how to land. Then we gradually lifted the plank higher. That can help build your confidence before you try jumps in Queenstown.”

You’ll need safety gear. It’s important to have a full-faced helmet and elbow and knee pads.

Getting started jumping in Queenstown

Donna and Toby are big fans of the Gorge Road Jump Park for beginners. Donna says: “There’s great progression starting with beginners’ lines on the right of the park. It gives beginners a feeling for the flow of jumping, so you can learn to pump your bike and gradually work up to jumps.

“As you get more confidence, you can move along to the next lines on the left. Gorge Road jump lines get progressively harder until you reach the full pro line, which the superstars of Crankworx ride. To have that spectrum in one park, from beginner level through to professional is rare and amazing. There aren't many jump parks in the world that have that range.”

Toby recommends the pump track in Hanley’s Farm near Jack’s Point to warm up for jumping.  

“Hanley‘s Farm Pump Track is perfectly designed to teach you the skills you need to jump. Pump tracks don’t have jumps, but they’re a great place to learn how to pump. Before you can jump, you have to learn how to pump. Then it's just timing.”

Fernhill Bike Park for skill progression

Fernhill Bike Park is home to three jump lines. Try Mini Dream for beginners and learning new skills, McNearly Gnarly for intermediate riders, and the iconic Dream Track for experienced riders and pros.

Mini Dream has just had a full makeover with slopestyle course features, and a mulch jump for beginners wanting to learn backflips. It’s going to be a really great progression area and the only slopestyle course in New Zealand open to the public.

McNearly Gnarly is an intermediate flow jump line. It has 60+ jumps, so it’s a fantastic spot for you to notch up heaps of jumping experience. The tabletop jumps mean even beginners can land safely.

The Dream Track is only for seasoned riders. The huge 60 ft gap jumps may be some of the largest public jumps in the world. Its reputation attracts riders from around the world, and it’s an amazing spot to watch international pros and celebrated New Zealand riders like Conor Macfarlane or Eddie Masters in action.

Toby’s favourite jumps

Toby loves Dream Track best of all the Queenstown jump lines.

“It’s so well made, and you get so much airtime. I remember the first time I did the biggest jump. All the jumps are big, but the one at the bottom has maybe 10 metres on the rest. I was riding with other people and I thought, I might as well do it. I have to do the whole line. So, I went as fast as I possibly could, and then I was up there, and it felt like I was in the air for so long. That felt good when I landed.”

Jumping can be addictive and you don’t have to be a mountain bike champion to experience that mid-air feeling. Toby says: “You only have to jump over a metre to get that flying feeling, and that floating sensation makes you want to jump bigger and bigger.”

MTB Event Inspiration

Donna explains that one of the other great learning opportunities Queenstown offers  riders is local mountain bike events. “Events are a great introduction to the mountain bike scene. You get to see a whole mix of talented riders in action, as well as levelling up your own skills.”

“McGazza Fest is the last weekend in January. It’s a big festival that pulls people from all over New Zealand and Australia and a showcase for some incredible jumping on Dream Track. Farm Jam is a biennial event on a farm near Queenstown with huge dirt jumps. It’s usually held close to McGazza Fest, so riders come to town for both.”

“Then before and after Crankworx, the international riders are here to practice and chill out with their mates. So that's the time to go spotting the rock stars of riding.”