Plans are afoot to develop a massive block of land in Northland into a national standard mountain bike and walking track in light of the soaring popularity of cycling in the region.
The Mangawhai Tracks Charitable Trust is in talks with the Kaipara District Council which owns about 120ha of bush block at the base of the Brynderwyn Ranges on Brown Rd.
The land was part of a farm bought as a wastewater disposal site.
In 2013, the trust carried out an evaluation of the block and found an already established network of tracks ideally suited for mountain biking and further walking tracks with a potential to link to the already established network in the ranges.
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Trust chairman Gordon Hosking said his members were keen to develop the land as a community recreation reserve, and presented a detailed proposal to KDC in 2014 and again in 2017.
According to a KDC report, interest in the land was registered with the Office of the Treaty Settlements by Te Runanga o Ngāti Whatua but it agreed to support the proposal for a mountain bike and walking track.
Hosking said the trust would meet with KDC tomorrow for preliminary talks.
“We want to have a national standard mountain bike park so that national competitions can be held and we have a professional team from Rotorua that was involved with the mountain park at Waitangi and other places around the world to help us with the design.
“Our trust will help with labour and we want to develop the mountain bike park in conjunction with the walking track because it’s a big area with nice natural bush and reverting farm land at the bottom,” Hosking said.
The trust needs about $350,000 and will apply for funding through KDC, Northland Regional Council and a number of trusts it has secured money from in the past.
It won’t apply for taxpayer funds through the Provincial Growth Fund because the proposed project was quite a way off from being shovel-ready.
Hosking said the new project could be a real drawcard for visitors to the area.
The trust, formed in 2012, has already developed 12km of walking track on Department of Conservation land south of the Brynderwyns.
Bike Northland development officer Arwen Page said the proposed mountain bike and walking trail would add to the many in the pipeline as well as those up and running throughout the region.
“The planned cycleway from Opua to Hokianga and down the west coast so the more we can improve on that infrastructure, the better it will be obviously for locals but also act as tourist attractions.
“There’s a whole move towards active recreational activities and cycling is more appealing.
“A lot of retirees are buying e-bikes and I’d say more people are cycling than playing rugby and hockey these days,” she said.
A new track geared for novice riders has boosted the total length of trails in the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park to 50km. The 3.2km loop trail Ngaawarinui (The Big Easy), which opened at Queen’s Birthday weekend, is the second-longest in the park, and one of only a few to be surfaced for its entire length.