We sat down with the president of the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club, Pete McInally, to talk about the local scene. Pete’s a bit of a local MTB legend himself. His nickname McGnarly comes from his enthusiasm for steep technical trails with massive jumps, so much so that intermediate jump trail McNearly Gnarly is named in his honour.
Build it and they will come
The club started in 2003. Pete says, “We formed the club to work with the local Council and the Department of Conservation and gain their support for MTB trails. It took a while for everyone to understand the potential of mountain biking as an attraction, but we saw during the Covid pandemic how big Queenstown mountain biking can be.”
Today the draw of the MTB scene is indisputable. Pete says, “People come to Queenstown for the trails and the jumps. We’ve a lot of steep, tough terrain here, which means we breed better riders and the calibre of the scene attracts more of the same. There’s a real can-do attitude. If you want to build something, you can, and other people will get involved.”
Queenstown Mountain Bike Club
In the pipeline for the future
New trails and big plans are a sign of how vibrant the Queenstown MTB community is. Pete’s excited about the launch of BluGazi at Fern Hill Bike Park, the new trails on Ben Lomond and Coronet Peak, and the impending Coronet Forest trail collaboration.
Pete explains the Club’s future goal is to work further alongside the Council and the Queenstown Trails to connect trails and create a vast network of bike tracks, MTB parks, and trails across the Queenstown region. He says, “We’d love people to be able to ride the whole region without having to go on the busy roads.”
Giving back to the MTB community
Great riders want to help other riders progress. Pete says, “The women’s scene is really growing, which is great to see. And we’ve a great set up for learners, with a really good mixture of beginner and intermediate trails and a range of jumps from small to huge. Even little kids are at such a high standard. More learners flows into more coaching. People are making a living running MTB coaching and we didn’t have that a few years ago.”
One of the things that makes the Queenstown MTB scene so special is how many keen bikers give back to the community by getting their hands dirty, building trails and organising events. Meet some of the local legends sharing their passion with us all.
In 2020 local trail builder Glen and a band of volunteers began working on a feature trail at 7 Mile Scenic Reserve. Ride a choice of lines, depending on your expertise, from wide and easy to tight and technical, along a trail packed with fun wooden features and obstacles.
Former TSS Earnslaw skipper Barry spent two years living in a backcountry hut, building the new 56km Coronet Loop. The new trail explores territory never open to the public before. Take in Greengates Saddle, Deep Creek and Coronet Creek with steep climbs and fun descents.
Nathan and his team founded, designed, and built Gorge Road Jump Park. Opened in 2003, and widely considered one of the best bike parks in the world, Gorge Road’s sculptural dirt jumps are as much an art installation as a spectacular series of jumps.
Gorge Road Jump Park
Founder of Elevate Trail Building, Tom is the man behind favourite trails like Hot Rod and Rude Rock, as well as the bridges on the new Coronet Loop. He’s also the Club’s maintenance contractor, and he’s trained up local trail building talent now making their own mark.
Emmerson is the man behind the reinvigorated Queenstown Bike Festival, now run by the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club. Billed as 10 days of epic riding, events, BBQs, and parties, the festival has fun for everyone from pros to groms.
Queenstown Bike Festival. Credit @cwoodphoto
Atlas Beer Cafe
Owner Davey McKenzie is a stalwart supporter of the Mountain Bike Club, sponsoring the Wynyard Jump Park, fundraising, and hosting events. Their Season of Shred party signals the start of the summer biking season, and the bar is a great place to meet local riders.
Bikers at Atlas Beer Cafe
Queenstown Mountain Bike Club Dig Nights
Volunteers are the lifeblood of the local scene, so rolling up your sleeves and helping Pete and the crew build is an awesome way to give back to Queenstown's mountain biking community. Every Wednesday evening, Mountain Bike Club members and other MTB enthusiasts convene in the forest, shovels in hand. Anyone can get involved and it’s a great way to contribute to the trails we all love. Many of Queenstown’s best-loved MTB trails were built on Dig Night, so rock up and help build the next rad trail.
Dig Night. Credit Diaries Downunder
If you love the local trails and want to say thanks for the fun, you can buy a temporary two week Queenstown Mountain Bike Club membership or donate online. Follow the club on Facebook to find out more.