For such a small, semi-rural region, we do pretty well in the volunteer stakes.
From late-March to December we hold weekly working bees on Sunday mornings and I never fail to be impressed by how many people turn-up for these. Rain is no deterrent - in fact, some of our best bees have been when it's been pouring down!
The main focus for the past two winters has been the hand-benching of Skullduggery: a narrow, winding singletrack that traverses the Park north to south 100m above sea level. Many of our regulars have invested dozens of hours in this task and it's no exaggeration to say that if they miss a w/bee or two, they start to feel withdrawal symptoms.
Just as the track unfolds in new ways as attendees follow the guideline surveying ribbons, so the Park slowly reveals its hidden treasures. Mature pine & kanuka stands give way to towering beech trees. Damp, shadier areas are thick with broadleaf & tree ferns. Streams trickle and splash on their steep descent to the estuary and out into the Bay.
The recent 'discovery' of three magnificent rimu along this route has provided the highlight of this journey of exploration so far. Estimated to be in the region of 500 years old, they stand like kings in a natural amphitheater. How they escaped the loggers of the previous century is a marvel. It seems as if they've been waiting for us to bring our mountain bike track to them.
You cannot but feel humbled in their presence...
I'm deliberately not including photos at this stage. For a start, it's hard to do them justice when you're an amateur with a cheap compact.
Secondly, for the time being, at least, it's as if they 'belong' to those volunteers sculpturing out the track from Kaiteriteri's hillside. Everyone feels a sense of ownership and the need for such trees to be properly acknowledged within the Park setting.
When Skullduggery is finished, we'll do that in a way we hope is fitting to their grandeur.
But for the time being, if you want to experience what it is like to be in the presence of forest royalty, you're welcome to join us at our next working bee :)
Much as we rely on volunteers to help extend our track network, there are other tasks around the Park that also require 'manpower'.
A couple of Saturdays ago, Ross Maley undertook to plant some native grasses along the earth bank separating the Skills Area from the trailer park.
No doubt, his son Sam was a help, when he wasn't doing laps of the Pump Track, as was Craig Skillicorn when he joined them before setting off for his own ride.
Kaiteriteri local David Ryder regularly makes his quad bike available when there's heavy stuff to be shifted.
Recently we needed to get some culvert off-cuts (donated by Fulton Hogan) about a kilometer into a digger-benched track currently under construction.
David began by towing them up the steep exit to Big Airs.
There wasn't a lot of manoeuverability along the new track but we managed to get to the gully where a stream needed to be crossed.
'Grib' Buchanan turned up to give a hand to install the culverts, here filling the bags we used to armour the sides.
Since arriving up from Dunedin, Grib has become a working bee regular. He's up for any ride that's going, be it local or Nelson way, mtb or roadie. Never happier than when on a bike.
It was only fair that he got to test ride the new bridge.
So, a few individuals giving up their time, another couple of tasks accomplished. Not the sort of thing many people using the Park would especially notice but all contributing to enhancing the experience...