Friday, January 30

Never standing still...

Another busy year for us in the Park, both behind and coming up.

2014 saw the completion of our 4 year, volunteer-built, singletrack project Skullduggery. Four winters of Sunday morning working bees, involving thousands of hours hand-benching over 3000m in typically-steep Kaiteriteri terrain.
Many of our volunteers have been with us from the start and now know how to sculpture fine, flowing trail. Inslopes, outslopes, grade reversals, switchback diameters, recommended gradients - all second nature to our regulars who, this year, we'll be rewarding with their own "I DIG SUNDAYS" t-shirts to go with their bonus vouchers from Coppins Cycles.

Another major development for the Park in 2014 was the expansion of our Skills Zone.
Situated next to the popular Pump Track, a series of wooden elements is being constructed to enable those relatively new to mountain biking to gain confidence by improving their balancing skills. Local sawmill, Prime Pine, donated $1000 of timber to get us started, N S Rogers donated the digger hire and a great turn-out over two Sundays from many of our supporters in the building trade saw part of the vision translated into rideable reality.


The original design, drawn up by Marty Clark and Bruce Nelson, provides for more elements to be added and that will be at the top of our agenda when our w/bees start up again.


It didn't take long for the first punters to try out the runs.

The one being ridden here is 900mm wide, with just enough elevation to challenge those unused to riding 'off the ground'.

It's popular with parents who like to shepherd their little'uns - often on balance bikes - along it, as well as with better riders wanting to practise their control.

The adjacent run is narrower and presents a bigger challenge, especially riding 'uphill'.



We ran out of time to finish our third element, involving two ramps leading onto a platform from which other ramps will extend.

A temporary solution was to install a boulder and small ramp to allow a way off the platform other than straight off the edge.

Having successfully demonstrated the latter, this rider tried the boulder route...

This option isn't recommended until you've mastered the tuck'n'roll technique of dismounting.


A significant change for 2015 is a different presentation of the Park's trail network.
This involved changing the perspective to better reflect the topography of the Park when viewed from the beach or at the mapboard.


We've also decided to move to a track numbering system, as it was getting too difficult to accurately attach names to tracks.
This now enables us to continue track identification through various junctions and will more easily accommodate future extensions to the network.
The numbers cross-reference to names and track descriptions on the back of our maps, which are available at various local outlets, including the Kaiteriteri Beach Camp office. You can also download the map from the Map link on the Menu bar.
As always, our thanks go to Steve Newport for the time he donates in producing our maps.


The most exciting development so far this year is that we are once again underway on Jaws 2!

This is the long-overdue extension to the 1km traverse of the Park's upper slopes that we opened last March.
We had hoped to have the whole 3km+ length opened for this Summer but, unsurprisingly, Jaws had other ideas...

For the past several months we have been chipping and, occasionally, blasting our way through granite bedrock in a steep-sided, rocky chasm.

We've had to cope with various mechanical breakdowns as the work took its toll on the machinery, 'though, fortunately, our determination never wavered.

We owe our thanks to many people for their practical support through this period, especially Andrew Spittal of Ching Contracting and the Motueka DoC office.

Ching Contracting's hydraulic rockbreaker is currently taking a breather at the point where we finally began to encounter softer rock and some separation in the seams. We're not sure we're done with it yet, with one gully to go before our planned, temporary, connection with Corkscrew, but spirits are high.
We're hoping to open this stage later this month and you can follow updates via our Facebook page.
Meanwhile, this 'Under Construction' track remains closed.

For 2015, we welcome three new track sponsors: Denstock Hi-Tec (Bay View & Scoot), Hop Federation (Big Airs)  and Trail Journeys (Rock'n'Roll). All sponsorship goes directly into track building so that there's always something new worth coming back for.
Over the coming year, we'll be profiling all of our track sponsors on Facebook - go there now for a taster..

Coming up... our Family Adventure Race Day on February 15!

Guy Trainor

Monday, November 17

Tracks

Just in time for xmas, we're offering the perfect gift for all of you Park lovers!

Ben Mills, local Art teacher and spare-time t-shirt designer, has created a super-cool tee for us that is going to be this Summer's must-wear item, at least within a 100kms radius of Kaiteriteri!

Called "Tracks", it's a catalogue of the Park's trail network, with a graphic to suit each one of them.

It's a talking point at your local, it's a souvenir of your visit, it's a comfortable, lightweight shirt to throw on after your ride as you head for a coffee or ice-cream, it's a motivational garment to inspire you to get onto the bike and hit some tracks...

And best of all, it's a donation to the Park, as each sale reaps $5 that we can put back into trail development!

(Going by the tee, you may think that there's no more room but we're not done yet..)

You can choose coloured graphic options or go for the simplicity of white-on-colour. Or, like me, you may have trouble deciding and just get one of each!




The women's tees have a more feminine cut and some different colour options to the mens'.

Zara (168cm) generously agreed to model the small-size White-on-Navy Blue to provide an idea of the look but there is a sizing guide on the website.
(I'm usually a medium and the men's medium is a perfect fit.)

On the white-on-colour tees, the Kaiteriteri MTB Park logo on the left chest includes some colour to distinguish it from the tracks.

The tees are priced at $40 and can be purchased on-line by going to:
https://kaiteri-mtb.printmighty.co.nz/products

So what could be better..? Supporting the Park while you're feeling and looking good!

And don't you think they'd make an awesome present...?

Some of the hand-benched tracks in the Park have been getting some pre-Summer luvin' in readiness for another full season. Scoot, Remedy, Shady Lady and upper & lower Velocity have all been prepped and are riding beautifully.
If you've often wondered about having a go at the the advanced-grade Remedy or expert/advanced Velocity, now's the time!
While work is stalled on Jaws, we'll continue administering TLC where needed around the network. High on the agenda is a bypass route for the increasingly-exposed, rata root drop on Skullduggery.

Progress on Jaws is temporarily suspended (again!) by the need for a major overhaul of the hydraulic rockbreaker. We took the opportunity of the 'downtime' to try some blasting on the granite bedrock (see our facebook page for photos) but won't know fully how successful this operation was until we apply the rockbreaker again. Unfortunately, chances of our showpiece track being open for Summer are looking less and less likely :(

On a more positive note, our predator control team certainly aren't standing idle. Their weekly inspection of the trapping line is regularly finding 'kills'.

At a recent Department of Conservation Open Day at the Park, committee coordinator Rod Markham had a stall outlining the aims of the programme and advice on how to get involved.
One of those who has got involved is Liz Thompson, one of the team at Physio4Health, sponsors of Shady Lady.
Her preferred running circuit takes her along part of the trapping line and she doesn't mind it if her run is interrupted by the need to reset a trap!
John McKenzie and Shaun Atkinson are the others currently making up the team.

Stoats, weasels and rats have all been recorded, with the latter dominating the recents stats.


Our Sunday morning working bees have nearly wrapped up for the year, with just one more celebratory event planned. We'll be sending out details of this shortly via email and facebook.

Guy Trainor

Friday, October 3

We must be doing something right...

For a small Park with big ambitions, feedback from visitors and regulars helps and encourages us towards making it even better.
From the start, we set out to create a family-friendly mountain biking environment. That meant first establishing a circuit of easy-grade trails, before extending into a range of intermediate and advanced-grade tracks. Every year, we plan our projects based on what we feel will add to the overall Park experience, both for beginner riders and those looking for more of a challenge.

The support we get from local businesses through sponsorship goes a long way towards funding much of this work.
Together with on-going support from the Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve Board, advertising, map sales and collections from our donation box, we're able to avoid the user-fees that are increasingly appearing elsewhere around the country.

But building tracks, especially on Kaiteriteri's steep, gully-riven slopes, is an expensive undertaking. It's hard on machinery and, when we hit rock, it gets even harder. Progress can slow from 40-50m a day to 2m a day and that can make a mess of even the best budgeting!

So when individuals and businesses approach us saying they'd like to show their appreciation for what we're doing with a substantial donation, it can sometimes mean the difference between keeping at it or suspending operations.

Andrew Taylor is one such individual. Based in Wellington, he and his wife, Pip, have a bolt hole in Little Kaiteriteri and, with their daughter, love getting into the Park on their bikes when in residence. Like many others, they know they're unlikely to make it to a working bee so decided to make a $10,000 donation to the Park. Yes, that's $10,000!
Shortly after Andrew's approach, Bruce Miller of Motueka's New World supermarket, also got in touch. New World already sponsor Remedy and provide the Sunday morning treats for our working bee volunteers. But Bruce, a regular Park user, wanted to also show his personal appreciation with a $2000 donation!

Such shows of support not only give those of us on the committee a huge lift in encouragement that we're creating something that is truly of value in the community - in very practical terms, it means our digger track-building can go on when our budget is otherwise exhausted.
At the moment, the track that is gobbling up most of our funds is... unsurprisingly, Jaws. So, when we eventually emerge from the torturous terrain that has tested us on so many levels and open up the whole length of this track for business, we hope Andrew and Bruce and their families get a special buzz out of riding it!

Another project soon to get lift-off is this enhancement to our Skills Arena.

Marty Clark & Bruce Nelson designed it for us some time back and we've been itching to get started ever since.
Local builder Roger Kenning worked up our timber needs and offered to oversee its construction once we had materials in place.

Step forward Brent Steinmetz of Prime Pine Ltd, the Little Sydney Valley-based sawmill. Another Park fan who laments not being able to make it to working bees,  Brent priced up our order and then knocked $1000 off the price as his way of making a contribution.
It has now been treated and delivered to site so look out on our Facebook page for the shortly upcoming notification of the day when we'll assemble and turn this design into a reality!



Coming up, we have the official opening of the Great Taste Trail's coastal section on October 11.

The final leg of this route brings riders into the Park and onto Easy Rider.

Since the opening of the cycle underpass as part of the Turners Bluff road realignment, we're already seeing greatly increased numbers of riders using Easy Rider. 

Feedback from many is that they're loving the completely different environment and we can imagine that the shade of the forest will be especially welcomed on a hot day.
Not to mention the ice-cream or (ginger)beer when you emerge onto the beach :)

It promises to be a fun day so, if you haven't got round to it yet, oil your chain and get you and your bike to Motueka for the 9.00am start...

The following day, we're playing host to a Duathlon.
This is being run - or is that run/biked? - by the Nelson Tri Club to see how popular the Park might be as a venue for future events.

If you think that this is something you'd like to give a crack, you can turn up on the morning and sign on.

As you can see, there are lots of options to cater for first-timers up to seasoned veterans in almost any combination you want to throw together.

And the best bit is, you get to run the tracks without meeting any bikers coming the other way!


Remember to 'Like' our Facebook page (linked in the sidebar) to keep abreast of what's happening in the Park, including news of the Nelson mum and children who did a 3 day cycle-tour to Kaiteriteri, who our track inspector is and where you can stand underneath 500 yr old rimu...

Guy Trainor

Thursday, September 4

Give us a break!

It's been a while since a Park update. Not that we haven't been busy, it's just that a few projects have taken - and continue to take - a little longer than expected.

Top of that list is the continuation of Jaws.
We opened the first 1km traverse in March and I blogged about the magnitude of that achievement in an earlier post. At the time, the effort that went into constructing that track far surpassed anything else we'd done at Kaiteriteri.
Surely, we were past the worst...

We resumed construction at the end of May and, as before, began with a relatively easy run. Slopes weren't too steep, the clay/granite blend was perfect, the rain stayed away. Not only were Karl & Sam, back to hot-seating Mouse the digger, churning out the metres, they were carving out some mega swoops and small jumps. It was like Jaws on steroids.

It couldn't last. Just as it's no longer so easy to sneak up on innocents at Martha's Vineyard, it seems it's not possible to carve out sneaky metres at Kaiteriteri without drawing the attention of the track's namesake.

He was back - and his teeth were as as sharp as ever!

We were the innocents as we rounded a gentle spur and progressed into an ever-steepening gully. The absence of mature trees ahead alerted us to the possibility that topsoil was thin. If it wasn't for the amount of birdsong we might just have heard the distant thrumming of a tuba...

Suddenly we were in it - the most solid wall of granite bedrock we have encountered to date!

The most frustrating thing about the bedrock is that it's never visible on the surface. You don't know if it's going to continue for just one or two metres or extend for several.
We began by scratching away with the digger attachments until we saw the toll it was taking on the teeth.  At that point, we borrowed a rock breaker and generator.

In the trade, these are called demolition hammers. When you're a 70kg ectomorph trying to form a working relationship with a 30kg rock hammer, the only thing that's guaranteed to get demolished is yourself. After a week of hammering away at vertical rock, my back muscles spat the dummy. This was a relationship that had no future...

To the rescue came Andrew Spittal. Andrew is a foundation sponsor of the Park - someone who, in our start-up years, invested hundreds of hours and thousands of dollars helping to get the Park on the map.
Although he's now busy building trails elsewhere in the region, he generously loaned us a hydraulic breaker from his construction company.

We got an adaptor made for it to fit Mouse and we were back in business!

It's still slow going. Granite doesn't easily fracture and the deeper we go, the harder it gets.

Occasionally we get lucky and manage to extract a boulder but, usually, it's a matter of painstakingly chipping away.
(You can check out the video below to get an idea of what our days are currently consisting of...)

We know that we'll eventually emerge from this particular gully and be off swooping our way downhill again. That we're behind schedule goes without saying but, rest assured, we won't let this big fish get the better of us.

We've worn down so many teeth that surely he must be getting a bit gummy, as well, by now..?

Meanwhile, elsewhere in the Park, we've had more success...

Over the last two winters, our volunteers have religiously been turning up on Sunday mornings for our working bees. Their project has been to extend the Skullduggery singletrack and, boy, has this captured their imagination!
Huge credit must go to our committee members, who have led the charge, but they've been more than ably supported by a dedicated pool of regulars. Many of these, especially the younger ones, are now developing a good sense how to build sustainable singletrack. These are the people who will be creating the fun & flowing trails of the future and I, for one, look forward to rocking up to ride them!

This new track currently exits just above the pump shed and only needs one or two more Sunday sessions before being officially 'signed-off'. Meanwhile, Sam & I have seized the opportunity of some rockbreaker repairs to make a start on a connection  between a mid-point on this track and Swish.

The purpose of this traversing track is to give people more circuit options and to take some pressure off the more steeply-descending lower half. Those who find the preceding sections of Skullduggery about at the maximum of their comfort zone will probably want to take the Swish option.
Plus, you'll get to take in this view towards Motueka from the seat near the end...


From here, you look down onto the lower stretches of Easy Rider, which finishes with some swooping switchbacks before exiting the Park (if this is where you want to come out).

It also forms the entrance into the Park of the Tasman Great Taste Trail.
People can now ride the Trail from Nelson to Kaiteriteri and we wanted them to feel they were entering something special when they arrived at this point.

For some, it will be their first venture into a "mountain bike park".
We're hoping they'll feel truly welcomed and enjoy the experience so much they'll feel encouraged to come back and explore more of the track network.

The gateway 'cog' was built for us by our Gold sponsor, Andy Lowe of Image Creators. We think it's pretty impressive but you could say that we're biased.
Why not come along to the official opening of the Motueka-Kaiteriteri section of the Trail on October 11 and see for yourself..?


True to predictions, we're now starting to see an increase in rat kills in our Park traps.
Rod Markham and John McKenzie will shortly be installing more traps, concentrating them in those areas where most kills are recorded.
Anyone keen to sponsor a trap or occasionally walk a trapline can email us at info@kaiteriterimtbpark.org.nz

And, finally, a little rock breaking to lull you to sleep...
Guy Trainor

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gPARRq9XMZA
video


Wednesday, May 21

Kaiteriteri's pumping!

Bringing Mouse, our digger, down from the upper part of the Park for a service, gave us an opportunity to carry out a long-awaited upgrade.

Our pump track has had a lot of use over recent years.

The berms and rollers had all mellowed to a level where it was getting harder and harder to pump out a lap without pedalling.

Still popular with young ones, it no longer provided the same challenge for more experienced riders, as when first opened.

The nearby road realignment of the Riwaka-Kaiteriteri Rd meant we were able to source some good quality fill and this was helpfully dumped adjacent to the site.

Karl Thompson, who built our pump track, originally designed a circuit that could accommodate additional features within the outside circuit. Now was the time to incorporate them, alongside vamping up the berms with that extra soil.
With Karl on Mouse and Sam Knowles constructing retaining walls, raking & compacting, the upgrade was completed within three days.
It now offers several directional options and some wicked berms that encourage you to maintain speed. It's still perfectly safe for beginners and little 'uns - but now, also, is a lot more fun for everyone else.

Here, Karl pumps out a couple of demo laps...


Obviously, it's still fairly fresh so please avoid riding it when wet or soft. 

Feedback on the first stage of JAWS has been overwhelmingly positive. It was a tough build and we're pretty proud of what we managed to achieve in challenging terrain. It's been getting a lot of use, despite the advanced-grade section of Velocity it currently connects to being a little out of some comfort zones.
We aim to commence the second stage of JAWS shortly. The friendlier gradients of the lower slopes will allow us to have some fun with this descending track before it exits at the Corkscrew hub.
With a kind winter, we hope to have the whole track open by Summer.

Rod Markham, who heads up our Predator Trapping programme, recently reported:
"Between January and March we caught 7 stoats, most of them near the Big Airs/Skullduggery junction. Since then the traps have been empty. We have been changing the trap positions but so far they remain empty. There has been no sign of rats at any of the traps, we are using a dried rabbit bait for stoats and have been adding peanut butter as a rat lure. We are about to try other baits including real and artificial eggs. 
Bird life in this area of the park seems pretty healthy at the moment in particular we are seeing large numbers of fantails through Skullduggery."

Apparently, it is normal for there to be a drop-off in stoat kills at this time of year. What is particularly encouraging is the lack of rat kills, as this is their most active time. We will continue to extend the trapping lines into new areas and hope for similar success. We remain grateful to those individuals who have donated to this programme, allowing us to direct Park funds into track building and maintenance.

Sunday, June 22, will once again see the mountain biking hordes descending upon Tent City in Bethany Park for the Kaiteriteri Mid-Winter 6Hr Breakout.
Last year, we had 200 teams, totalling nearly 500 riders. This year will probably exceed that so, as we're approaching capacity for the event, it wouldn't pay to delay getting your entry in for too long. Cut off date is June 15.   
      
Last year saw Brian Grant ride off with the top costume prize with his inspired Major Tom. This is the category that really reflects the spirit of the event so we can expect some fairly creative outfits this year.

And for those who like the dark side, don't forget that you can join us for a Saturday Night Ride. Just turn up at the Beached Whale Bar/Cafe @ 6pm for a cruisey circuit of our favourite tracks.

After the ride, we'll retire to the Bar for beer'n'pizza and live coverage of the ABs playing England :-)

To encourage those coming from a distance, Kaiteriteri Beach Motor Camp is offering a special deal for all 6Hr entrants: a 20% discount on all cabin and tent sites.
Ph. (03) 527 8010 for bookings.

A lot of work has already been put into this year's circuit, making it less susceptible to cutting up should the track be damp, on the day (tho' heavy rain will force a postponement). If you've been wondering what it would be like to enter a multi-hour, mid-winter, mountain biking, team event - this is your chance!









Sunday, March 23

JAWS comes to Kaiteriteri!


He's been a long time coming but JAWS has finally arrived at Kaiteriteri.

He's fought us all the way, throwing up more challenges in 1 km of track than all of the others combined. Every time we celebrated the benching of an especially difficult piece of terrain, we were granted only a brief reprieve before facing our next hurdle.
The construction of this track challenged us in ways we hadn't encountered before. Even Mouse, our brave little digger, suffered some fractures that required extensive welding before being thrust back into the fray.
Blasting, rockhammers, enormous pines, slips - right up to the final few meters when we disturbed a cluster of three wasp nests and a bumblebee hive, building this track was a massive undertaking. It deserved a big name...

It starts innocently enough.

Having just climbed 3kms of Corkscrew, we figured people would appreciate a gentle, catch-your-breath, introduction to our latest Intermediate-grade addition to the network.

Sidecast spill creates the impression of a wide thoroughfare, disguising the steep slopes you're in fact traversing.
This will quickly revegetate and create a green corridor that lures you in.


There are also some big views to distract you.

You can climb some steps at this point to our tree stump lookout.

We haven't figured out what the felled pine, with its 'tentacle' branches, most resembles yet.
Is it a praying mantis..? A weta? A squid?

Whatever it is, this fallen monster dominates the open slopes of this length of track.


The view to the East is equally impressive, taking in the sweep of Tasman Bay, Nelson and the Richmond Ranges in the distance.

As is typical at Kaiteriteri, traversing the slopes means crossing numerous spurs.

Much as we try to open them up and shave back the inside bank, they remain 'blind corners'.

Therefore, because we want people to enjoy the flow of JAWS, we've made it ONE WAY.


The Pool of Reflection.

We spent many hours and days at this spot, wondering if we were ever going to progress.

I posted earlier about the trials we had with an adjacent spring we 'untapped', causing several cubic meters of grey, silty hillside to slump.

It seemed that every time we tried to move on, more soil and surface vegetation would slip down, forcing us to backtrack to clear the mess and try to create a new bench.
A brand new shovel is buried near here, left by an equally buried culvert.

So pause for a moment when you pass this spot and reflect on the hours it can sometimes take to create a few meters of track.

You may even spot the koura we relocated here...

What followed the slip was one of those periods when the more ominous aspects of JAWS slipped away and lulled us into a sense of relaxation.

The slope eased off. The soil reverted to the granite/clay mix that is such a pleasure to sculpt track from.

A nice blend of beech and kanuka forest provided welcome shade and birdsong.

Karl Thompson and Sam Knowles were hot-seating Mouse and I was working hard to stay in front.

We even found scope to throw in a split line and some swoops that were of our choosing, not the terrain's. We were having fun!

I guess we should have realised that JAWS wasn't finished with us yet...

No sooner had Karl departed for his pre-booked 'paternity leave' than we hit rock - big time!
A thin layer of vegetation sat on top of granite bedrock on steep slopes.

Much of this has already been chronicled in the Kaiteriteri Rocks!
photo album on our facebook page.

The Rocky Horror Picture Show showed the work in progress - here is part of the finished article. It's a thing of beauty, really, and may, in time, comes to resemble the Hanging Gardens of Babylon.



We hope you notice when you fly past.

You may choose to stop anyway, if only to refill your water bottle from the stream.

We've put a pipe in to save you the 5m scramble up some wet rocks to a small waterfall, 'though if the funnel has been dislodged, you may wish to do that anyway.

The water is delicious and, on a hot Kaiteri' day this makes a perfect spot to cool down, eat that banana and... smile.

As it happened, Karl returned from his 'paternity leave', several weeks later, the day after Sam cleared the last of the rocky section. If I hadn't met the new baby boy myself, I could almost have been suspicious that the whole "pregnancy" had been a fabrication ;-)

To our relief, the final 200m run went fairly uneventfully (bar those wasp nests), no doubt evidence that JAWS was as exhausted by the battle as we were.

This first stage - of what will eventually be a 3 kms long, descending track to the Corkscrew hub - exits onto Velocity just below the steep, rutty Expert (Black Diamond) section, remnants of an old firebreak. From this point Velocity is graded Advanced but confident riders will enjoy a loop that swoops them down to the Skullduggery/Big Airs hub.

The track builders are taking a month's break now but will be resuming our tussle with JAWS after Easter. Even though his teeth are a little more worn now than when we started, we don't think for a moment he's given up.


Thursday, January 2

It ain't easy...

For those of you curious to know how progress on our latest digger-bench project is going, the answer is SLOW!
We expected the steepness of the terrain to make for some tough going, with batters frequently exceeding 2m.
The number of exceptionally-large, prone pines was new. Obviously felled well before the former forest was converted into a mountain bike park, these fallen monsters have proven a challenge in places - especially on the steep slopes.

Still, at the end of each day, we were able to look back on several more metres of newly-formed track.
Then we encountered a wall of granite. Scratching away with the digger bucket was achieving little other than wearing down teeth. The only option was to blast it.

Enter Andrew Smith of Independent Blasting & Abseil Access.

This first exercise in blasting may have alarmed a few Kaiteriteri residents but it did succeed in clearing a sufficient path for Mouse to move forward.

A few metres on, we encountered a boulder.

These are rare on the surface of the MTB Park slopes and, when discovered, we try to make a feature of them or, at the least, to leave them trackside for riders to marvel at.

That wasn't really an option, here. It was massive and the way it hung over the intended line meant it wasn't safe to try to sneak under it. It had to go.

What we could see was big enough but how much of the boulder was buried underground was impossible to tell.

Also, it was formed of much harder, white granite, rather than the softer, yellow rock more typical of 'Separation Point Granite'.
This called for a more powerful drill. Despite being on holiday, Mark Townsend, Motueka DOC Conservation Services Manager, came to our rescue by lending us theirs.


It wasn't easy work.

First, Andrew used a pneumatic rock hammer, generously loaned by Ching Contracting, to create a starting hole for the drill bit.

Then he had to rig up a harness for himself while Karl used the digger bucket to take some of the weight of the heavy drill.

Add in temps in the high 20s and the sweat was flowing freely!

The holes had to be drilled to a depth of approx. 1.2m before the charges could be inserted. Then, we retreated to a safe distance, wound up the warning siren before, 60secs later... KABOOM!!!


I'm not sure how accurate the reports were that some locals thought that a local water taxi company's fuel depot had exploded but the boom did echo around the hills for a few seconds.

A significant chunk of the boulder still remained, however, so Andrew's work wasn't finished yet...

It's hard yakka manhandling the drill, especially on a steep slope, and made me appreciate the efforts of those currently constructing the Old Ghost Road mountain bike trail.

Even more so, the achievements of those mining pioneers carving their pack tracks into the hinterlands of rugged mountain ranges.
Picks, shovels and dynamite forged a network of benched trails that are now helping to turn NZ into a MTB Mecca.


Meanwhile, back at the rockface, enough rock had been removed for Karl to manoeuvre Mouse a few more metres along the track.

More boulders... but of a size able to be nudged over the edge, crashing their way into the gully below.

But this 20m stretch of hillside wasn't done with us yet.

Stripping the vegetative cover and thin topsoil away uncovered a bank of wet, grey, silty sub-soil.


The more we excavated, the more slumped down to re-cover the track. Somewhere in there, a spring had been 'uncorked'...

Water seeped freely from the bank, quickly turning previously dry soil to a porridge-like consistency.
It seemed as quickly as we cleared it, more slipped down, leaving the matted surface vegetation - held together by suplejack roots - increasingly undercut.

Eventually, we succeeded in creating enough of a sump to install a drain and got back on to the business of benching track.

Walking back out that afternoon, we discovered another major slump, this time bringing down, along with a jungle of vines and tree fern, another massive boulder!

Re-enter, Andrew...

More blasting, more excavating... and we're wondering how much more time this section is going to consume.

Work recommences on Monday and an inspection this weekend will most likely reveal that more of the hillside has slumped over the track.

Still, like the pioneers of old, we'll get there and, chances are, when you eventually get to ride this bit of track, you'll whizz by oblivious to the efforts that went into building it.



Although, if you stop to pause and reflect by the small pool we've created at a stream crossing just beyond it, you may be lucky enough to spot a koura.

The native freshwater crayfish pictured was found living in the damp soil underneath one of the boulders we removed.
Unfortunately, its tail was missing but it did manage to crawl away when we relocated it to the pool.

How many generations of this species it took for this individual to make it quite so far up Kaiteriteri's slopes is anybody's guess.

Unless, s/he came via the underground spring system, of course, in which case they may be on their way down...



Alongside the regular Summer visitors from Christchurch, there's been a great mix of others using the trails this season- some of whom have appeared on our Facebook page.
More people from the North Island have heard about the MTB Park and, when combined with the other natural attractions of the region, have found it well worth the ferry crossing.
The local bike hire operators have also enabled many overseas visitors to get out and explore the tracks, all finding something to suit their level of skill and fitness.

Some, like Erica Hartwick, enjoy returning to ride their favourite tracks.

She took special delight in installing her own unique contribution to The Corkscrew Tree over xmas.

Next time you wander into a second-hand shop for a bit of time-filling browsing, why not see if there's an interesting corkscrew that could become your own 'signature' at this well-photographed landmark.

We are always grateful to those of you that leave something in the donation box following your visit.
Not only do we accept it as your way of saying "Thanks!" - it makes a very real contribution to Park development.
As the track network has expanded, so, too, have maintenance requirements and the tools necessary to carry it out, so every dollar is well invested.

Occasionally, appreciative Park users want to contribute more significantly to our work. Several people have made substantial donations directly to us and these we acknowledge with a letter, tax invoice and, new this year, a 'Thank You" poster. We also mention them under our Supporters link in the menu bar.
Amounts over the years have varied from $50 to $1000 but all are received with the same awareness that you get a lot of enjoyment from the Park and we get a lot of pleasure from knowing that. Alongside our many track sponsors, you're helping to create a Park of which we can all be proud.

And finally, despite all those kgs you've put on over xmas, remember you can always shed weight by buying carbon components...