McLeans Forest


Regional Parks during Alert Level 2

During Alert Level 2, your Regional Parks remain open for those in the local area to use for recreation. Please continue to keep a two-metre distance from people who are not in your bubble.

Further information about recreational activities that are permitted under Level 2 can be found on the government's covid website

Due to recent flooding and high winds, restrictions are in place in these areas of the Waimakariri River Regional Park:

  • Te Ruakaakaa
  • Whites Crossing

There is a large hotspot of native bird nesting and breeding activity behind Mcleans Island, please stick to the tracks or avoid the area altogether. Threatened and endangered birds include:

  • wrybill
  • dotterel
  • black fronted terns
  • a very large black-billed gull colony.

Just a 15-minute drive from Christchurch, McLeans Forest has three mountain bike loops totalling 17 kilometres and catering for cyclists of all ages and abilities, plus 11 kilometres of walking or running tracks.

Other commercial businesses lease land from Environment Canterbury in the wider Mcleans Island area, so you’ll find Orana Wildlife Park, car, machinery and golf clubs, shooting groups and other recreation ventures.

Please check notices and events for the latest information.

mountain biking in Mcleans forest


McLeans Forest is a section of the Waimakariri River Regional Park popular with mountain bikers of all ages, walkers and runners. 

You'll find about 17km of family-friendly, high quality mountain biking tracks and 11km of walking and running trails.

The entrance is off McLeans Island Road, coming from either Johns Road or Old West Coast Road.

Gates are open 7am to 10pm year round.

Dogs must be kept under effective control at all times. No barbecues are provided but visitors are welcome to bring their own, provided they are gas only and used in areas clear of vegetation.  Light no fires. Dial 111 immediately if you see smoke or flames.

Parking area - suitable for 100 cars.

Picnic tables with grassed area for playing.

Public toilets.

Mountain biking - There are three loop tracks at Mcleans Forest. Two well-kept trails cater for family groups through to competitive bikers. The River Loop is an additional dirt trail that is only lightly maintained as it tends to flood often. All loops are one-way and can be interlinked to make a total distance of 17km.
  • Tresillian Loop - The main track starting and finishing off the car park, 10km.
  • Coringa Loop - An additional 5km loop off Tresillian Loop.
  • River Loop - Accessed from Tresillian Loop, the 2km river loop is a low-grade track that takes you right out to the river's edge.
Shared use (mountain biking or walking) Templars Island Trail - starts at Mcleans Forest and travels the length of the Waimakariri River as far as Brooklands Lagoon at the river mouth. This is a multi-directional, easy riding trail offering great views of the Waimakariri River.
Walking and jogging - The 11km McLeans Forest walking trail starts and finishes at the main car park. The Templars Island Trail can also be walked or run.
Picnics - Toilets and a grass oval suitable for family games. Plenty of picnic tables. Gas barbecues are welcome provided they are set up in areas clear of dry vegetation. 
Underemployment schemes in the 1930s, hundreds of men armed only with shovels, picks and wheelbarrows created a series of stopbanks and groynes along the Waimakariri River in an attempt to reduce flooding through Christchurch. Most of the pine plantations along the river were also planted during this Depression era.
The forests generate revenue for on-going river protection works and also provide a buffer to slow flood water before it hits the stopbanks.
Mcleans Island was literally an island in the Waimakariri River prior to river engineering works.
The Miners and Harewood cross banks were added in the 1900s to block the southern channel of the Waimakariri River, so the water flow shifted north of McLeans Island, reducing the chance of water breaking out towards Christchurch.
The south branch of the river became the spring-fed Ōtūkaikino Stream which visitors enjoy at The Groynes picnic area. Today McLeans Island is home to a diverse range of recreational opportunities, including McLeans Forest.