Wednesday, August 29

The story so far...

Four years ago, the bush-clad slopes behind Kaiteriteri beach were largely unused.

A few local walkers, runners and mountain bikers accessed the firebreaks but even some of these were being rapidly overgrown by gorse. The only visitors who ventured off the firebreaks were those engaged in less legal activities, at least until the police starting using aerial thermal imaging...

In the summer of 2008, a Concept Plan was commissioned of the Kennett Bros. by the Kaiteriteri Recreation Reserve Board (KRRB). While it identified potential for a mountain bike park, it also acknowledged the challenge the steep terrain presented. It was possible, they said, but it wouldn't be easy.

Their report was presented to, and approved by, the KRRB in September 2008. A purposefully-designed MTB Park was still a fairly radical concept for the Board at the time, whose focus was largely centred around its twin roles as a beach holiday destination and a jumping-off point for the Abel Tasman NP. A few holidaymakers would arrive in the camp from Christchurch every summer with bikes on the back but their choices of places to ride was pretty limited.

So it was no small leap of faith by the KRRB to embrace the vision of a family-centred mountain bike park and throw their support behind it.

The original proposal outlined a 3 year, 3 stage development programme that would see the creation of a pump track and two track circuits (easy & intermediate) that traversed the lower slopes of the Park. These tracks were all in place by the end of 2011.
But it seems we had awakened a sleeping tiger.  Like cars on motorways, it seemed the more tracks we built, the more people arrived to ride them. It quickly became apparent we needed to expand the trail network.
This mushrooming interest in mountain biking had not gone unnoticed by the KRRB. Now there was barely a car in the beach carpark without bikes on the back. Increasingly popular with mums and/or dads with their kids, many regularly travelling from Nelson, the Park fulfilled the Board's mandate of investing in family-oriented activities.

In early 2012, they asked the management team, Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park Inc. (KMBP), to provide another 3 Year Plan. This Plan outlined how the KMBP envisioned track development, along with other Park enhancements, through to 2015.
A pdf copy of the report is available by emailing

Building tracks at Kaiteriteri is expensive. Steep slopes mean slow progress, and tracks (e.g. Corkscrew) that demand multiple switchbacks slow it even more. In budgeting for the proposed programme, the KMBP recommended that the purchase of a mini-excavator could provide savings over hire options. The further the network extended from easy-access points also increased the case for a 'digger' that could remain on-site when bad weather forced stoppages.

Just as they did in 2008, the Board again recognised the value of investing in the Park. Not only did they approve the 3 Yr Plan with its $60,000 track building estimate, they also agreed to fund the purchase of a 2nd-hand excavator.

All of us involved in developing Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park know how fortunate we are to have the KRRB as project backers. The vision they shared with a few enthusiastic mountain bikers back in 2008 is now a reality - and we haven't stopped yet!

To help acknowledge their role, we've recently added them as Foundation Sponsors to our website.
Clicking the link in the sidebar will take you to a profile of their involvement. They're a modest bunch so I've yet to score a group photo.
In the meantime, we're using their logo which, in turn, takes you to the website that outlines all of the Kaiteriteri-based activities they're engaged in.

Our other Foundation Sponsor is Andrew Spittal, via his Family Trust. Andrew came on-board right at the early stages and remains a huge asset to the Park. You can read more of Andrew's contribution by using the sidebar link but I'm afraid clicking on his photo just gets you a larger version of it ;-)

Project Manager Guy Trainor receives the keys from Todd Blackwood (R)
As soon as Andrew heard that we were on the look-out for a 2nd-hand 1.5t excavator in good condition, he started asking around his mtb riding buddies, many of whom are in the construction industry.

One of these is Todd Blackwood, Sales rep. for Cable Price in Richmond.
A keen mtber and 'trail pixie' himself, Todd knew of a trade-in that would tick our boxes (zero-tail swing, retractable tracks, safety features) and arranged to have it transported up from Invercargill.

Once in the workshop, his team gave it a good going over to make sure it was thoroughly up-to-scratch before handing over the keys. They even fitted it up with a tilt-swing bucket the Board had agreed to additionally purchase.

Needless to say, we're totally wrapped with our latest acquisition!
It was immediately put into service benching our current project, Cruise Control (you can see it in action last week on our facebook page).
You'll be able to admire its work (at the hands of operator Karl Thompson) once we've completed the grooming of the track in a fortnight's time - weather-permitting!

We see it as the start of a long and productive relationship...

Tuesday, August 7

Those that Do...

Over recent weeks I've been on the verge of a rant about 'track consumerism' - the attitude where riders expect to be able to use tracks without any sense of giving back. I suspect this is a growing trend, fed by the emergence of so many new mtb parks & trail centres on public land, and certainly not restricted to Kaiteriteri.
We build tracks, encourage people to come and use them, and then moan when we're faced with the burden of track maintenance. You could say, "It's your own fault!"

But focussing on those that don't is a depressing train of thought - far better to focus on those that DO.

We have quite a small pool of mountain bikers to draw from in Tasman, especially within a half-hour commute to Kaiteriteri. What's been amazing is that, since our first gatherings in late 2008, we've kept a core group of people who remain absolutely committed to the venture.

These individuals largely constitute our current committee. You can see who they are via the About Us link on the menu bar but, if you wanted to meet them, our Sunday morning working bees are the best place.

They each have donated hundreds of hours to the Park, be it in track-building, track maintenance or in numerous other committee tasks & functions. It takes a lot to develop and run a MTB Park and without these guys, it would grind to a halt.

But as generous with their personal time as the committee is, even they would burn-out without the contributions from our wider pool of volunteers. So far this year, 30 people have turned up for one of our w/bees. Of these, four have attended 10+ and another seven 4+. But even those who have only managed 2-3 are doing their bit - giving back - and that helps keep the rest of us going.

We're in the process of reviewing our working bee format and hope to have some fresh ideas come out of it. If you have some suggestions, we'd love to hear them. But I suspect the bottom line will remain the same, the future of the Park will depend on how much support it gets from the local mountain biking community.

Website & Facebook
David Konecny is our Go to man for any website upgrades. David set up the original blogspot and has periodically tweaked it into how we want to use it. Recently we thought it was time for a refresh and we hope you agree it's looking better.

You'll see there are now social media buttons at the bottom of each post for you to share via email, twitter or facebook. We've also included a link to our new facebook page in the sidebar. This has been up & running for a couple of weeks now and being well liked! It will be the place to go to for the current news & photos and we hope you'll use it to give us feedback. David's also increased the size of video playback on our park tv, always a good place to visit if you're wanting an idea of what the Park offers.

Easy Rider
The Tasman District Council largely funded the construction of this easy-grade track to provide an off-route to Kaiteriteri, bypassing the steep and narrow, winding, coastal road.
It has now been selected to form the final stage in the regional cycleway network, the Tasman Great Taste Trail.

This necessitates a significant, but achievable, upgrade. The result will be a smooth, flowing trail suitable for all ages and offering some of the best views of Tapu Bay in the Park.

Cruise Control
Work on our latest, family-friendly, track came to a halt mid-July when Karl's digger broke a coupling (see previous post). Today our "new" digger arrived in Kaiteriteri and we'll be back into action tomorrow!
You'll hear more about our digger in our next blog but, meanwhile, you'll be able to follow our progress on facebook...