10 reasons to experience the ultimate mountain biking festival, Crankworx Rotorua

You may have heard us mention Crankworx Rotorua a time or two on our socials, yet you may be wondering what all the fuss is about.

We hear you and we’ve got you! The event starts on Saturday, 16 March, and runs through to Sunday, 24 March, so it’s time to start planning your visit.
Once a year Rotorua becomes world-famous for something other than its geothermal landscapes, Māori cultural experiences, and world-class spa and wellness attractions. It becomes famous for one huge, spectacular, nine-day mountain biking festival of all festivals: Crankworx Rotorua.
Here are the top 10 reasons why this 10th annual event is an absolute must-see for everyone.

1. World-class competition 10 years running

This year serves as the 10th year that Crankworx Rotorua kicked off the global, multi-destination Crankworx World Tour, bringing together the planet’s best mountain bikers as they compete in a series of thrilling events and vying for medals, points, cash prizes, and the ultimate title of Queen or King of Crankworx.
Whether you catch the heart-stopping downhill races, Dual Slalom, Whip-Off, gravity-defying Slopestyle, AirDH or others – or all of them – you’ll be witnessing the pinnacle of the world’s mountain biking talent as they push the limits of what's possible on two wheels.

2. Two iconic venues, one way to watch

The festival starts on Saturday with downhill racing that’ll make your head spin as fast as the tyres flying past you. Several events will take place on the National Downhill Track in Whakarewarewa Forest over three days. Entry to the forest events are free.
On Wednesday, everything shifts over to Skyline Rotorua to utilise the amazing Skyline Rotorua Mountain Bike Park. The park’s variety of trails – plus one trail exclusively used for Crankworx – makes it the perfect venue for the diverse array of Crankworx events. The festival at Skyline requires tickets, which can be purchased here or at the gate.
There’s only one way to watch the action, and that is up close and personal! While the tracks are roped off, that’s the only barrier between you and the riders – there are no grandstands or reserved seating. Get in early so you can pick your preferred posi, then pull up a spot and get your camera ready for the action.
View the Crankworx Rotorua schedule here. Please note that the schedule is subject to change.

3. Women join Slopestyle

In a ground-breaking move that solidifies its commitment to equality and progress, Crankworx Rotorua announced the introduction of the first-ever Women’s Crankworx FMBA Slopestyle World Championship (SWC). This is considered the marquee event of Crankworx and a must-watch.
This isn’t the first time Crankworx Rotorua was a trailblazer for gender equality; it made history in 2015 by becoming the first venue to award equal prize money to both male and female athletes, then a year later introduced the Crankworx Speed and Style race for women.
The inclusion of the SWC women’s category provides equal opportunity access to the highest echelons of the sport featured across the Crankworx World Tour. With equal prize money, broadcast time, opportunities and coverage, the female riders will share the spotlight with their male counterparts as the celebrities of the mountain biking world.
Someone to watch is Robin Goomes, a Chatham Island resident and a true embodiment of Kiwi spirit. Robin made history during Crankworx Innsbruck (Austria) 2021 by being the first female to land a backflip in competition, a defining moment that set the trajectory for the current state of women’s competition in the sport.

4. Rotorua’s reigning King of Crankworx

Speaking of those to watch, head along to see Rotorua’s very own King of Crankworx, Tuhoto-Ariki Pene defend his crown! The 22-year-old, who began riding when he was just 3 years young, has solidified his status as a household name in the mountain biking and BMX communities.
While Tuhoto-Ariki is an absolute machine on the tracks, he’s refreshingly humble, preferring to mentor and nurture young riders while he’s on his home turf, or share his culture and connect with others when he’s travelling to competitions around the world.

5. Kidsworx

Grab the Groms for this one! Ensuring that the love for mountain biking is passed down (or introduced!) to the next generation, Crankworx Rotorua includes Kidsworx Arena for riders aged 12 and younger. This zone offers demo bikes, daily activities, and coaching opportunities to help youngsters get in on the action.
There is no extra charge to access the Kidsworx Arena, and no pre-registration is required.

6. Fun festival atmosphere

Beyond the intense competitions, Crankworx Rotorua is a celebration of the mountain biking community. The festival atmosphere is electric, with live music, food vendors, and a vibrant expo showcasing the latest gear and technology in the biking world. It's a hub where riders and fans alike come together to share their passion for the sport, and maybe even get some selfies with your favourite rider.

7. Get all the advice, gear and merch

Be sure to check out the latest in mountain biking products, enter competitions, and hang out with your mates at the expo where the biggest brand names in mountain biking are all in one place. The most respected brands in the industry will have their newest downhill, trail and freeride bikes for you to take out on the trails, if you’re keen to have a test ride.
Don’t forget to pick up this year’s Crankworx Rotorua branded hoodies, t-shirts and more. Each year a new merch logo is created. This year, in commemoration of the 10-year anniversary, the design highlights our Māori culture by including its Māori name, Tere Panuku, meaning “to glide, soar and rise.” The image incorporates a kārearea, New Zealand’s native falcon, with its wings outstretched and eyes laser-focused on its prize. The kārearea nest in our ngahere (forests), including Whakarewarewa Forest.

8. Community and camaraderie

Crankworx Rotorua is more than just a sporting event – it's a community of like-minded individuals brought together by their passion for mountain biking. Whether you're a seasoned professional, an amateur enthusiast, or a curious spectator, the festival fosters a sense of camaraderie that transcends skill levels and backgrounds. It's a place where friendships are forged, stories are shared, and a love for mountain biking unites everyone.

9. Inspired riding

Rotorua's natural beauty is unparalleled, and Crankworx Rotorua provides the perfect inspiration to experience it. No matter what your skill level or how little experience you have on a mountain bike, there are trails within the world-renowned Whakarewarewa Forest mountain biking network for you, including New Zealand’s newest Great Ride, the Whakarewarewa Forest Loop. Bring your bikes or hire some so you can take that inspiration to explore the lush forests, ride through ancient redwoods, and enjoy panoramic views of the surrounding landscapes.

10. Adventure beyond biking

While Crankworx Rotorua is centred around mountain biking, Rotorua offers heaps of additional adventures and things to do. Explore the geothermal wonders, indulge in adventure activities like ziplining or whitewater rafting, enjoy a Māori cultural experience (pictured above is Te Pā Tū), or simply relax in the rejuvenating hot pools, creating a perfect balance between adrenaline-fueled biking and serene relaxation.
Crankworx Rotorua invites fans, athletes, and the global community to witness this pivotal moment in the history of mountain biking as the SWC takes centre stage in 2024. Join us in celebrating equality, progress and the incredible skill of women in freeride mountain biking.

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