Run still faces trials
It's been two years in the making and Shaun Collins can now share his dream of bringing a slice of West Auckland paradise to the world.
But this will be no walk in the park.
The Hillary Trail Ultra run through the Waitakere Ranges has been approved for March 29 after much careful negotiation with residents and Auckland Council around the spread of kauri dieback.
Mr Collins, a trail runner and organiser with Lactic Turkey Events, says he's confident they can do it right.
"We got there in the end. It feels good. Once word gets out it's going to draw runners from all over the world," the 39-year-old says.
"I love the variety of terrain on the trail.
"You've got everything from native bush, beaches and coastal walkways to marshland and open farmland."
But Mr Collins and his team are walking the tightrope to make the event successful. The run has been approved at this stage but the issue of kauri dieback could halt any future plans.
Auckland Council biosecurity principal adviser Nick Waipara says the Waitakere Ranges is one of the worst hit areas in New Zealand.
"Regional and national surveillance undertaken across kaurilands has confirmed there are multiple kauri dieback disease zones across the Waitakeres, on both private and park land," Dr Waipara says.
Thousands of hectares are affected and several thousand trees are either infected or dead.
The Hillary Trail is surveyed by council and maintenance involves upgrading of walking tracks, installation of cleaning stations for shoes, designation of kauri protection areas with restricted access and a public awareness campaign.
The event will have a biosecurity team assessing the tracks before and after and mandatory scrub stations will be placed throughout.
Mr Collins says this is a great opportunity to educate people about the seriousness of kauri dieback.
"We have to do as much as we can to stop spreading it.
"Runners are an easy target because we're the ones asking for things like events to be held," the Laingholm resident says.
"But we're well educated on the issue and are 100 per cent compliant with the measures in place.
"A big problem is people ignoring the warnings, but on the other hand the signs aren't that big."
The longest option for the Hillary Trail Ultra is 80km from Arataki to Muriwai, with a 34km option starting from Piha and a 16km stint from Bethells Beach.
Restrictions have been placed to a total of 500 runners. "The interest is at a level I haven't seen in other trails around the country," Mr Collins says.
Visit thehillary.co.nz for more information.
The Hillary Trail's origins began in 1925 when Sir Edmund Hillary's father-in-law Jim Rose built a bach at Anawhata.
Sir Edmund went to the west coast to unwind and prepare for his adventures. The Hillary Trail took five years to develop and officially opened in 2010.