Nelson Mountain Bike Club confident of Wairoa Gorge management plan

The Nelson Mountain Bike Club has been given access to the world class trails at the Wairoa Gorge, near Wakefield.
Digby Shaw

The Nelson Mountain Bike Club has been given access to the world class trails at the Wairoa Gorge, near Wakefield.

The Nelson Mountain Bike Club has seen a spike in membership after last week's announcement that a coveted private riding park will be open to the public.

After six months of negotiations with landowners RHL Limited, the club has entered into a rent-free lease agreement with the company beginning on November 1.

The deal will see year-round access to the 841-hectare property and its 70km of world-renowned trails for members that wish to take part in shuttle days at "The Gorge".

Large public interest in the gorge has seen club numbers increase by more than two hundred in the last week, while the club's Facebook page received more than 100,000 visits.

"It would be fair to say we've seen a fifteen per cent spike, which is easily the most we've ever had - if you're looking at a graph it's growing pretty rapidly," club secretary Paul Jennings said.

"It probably got the level of interest we were hoping it would."

Last week's announcement has also sparked plenty of overseas media interest with British, Australian and US publications making mention of the development

Access will be controlled by the club to ensure the quality of rider experience and that all health and safety and access requirements are adhered to.

Jennings emphasised that while the agreement was officially signed and locked in, the next focus was ensuring the facility could be managed appropriately.

"At the moment we've got a really good relationship with both parties putting in a huge effort to get it where it is, the club were trying to balance, and I think RHL were too, with not over committing but also having enough security in the agreement that both parties felt that it was worth getting into," he said. 

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"But the club's in a really good spot and we'd already got halfway I think, so it was just tying up those loose ends."

It is understood the price of club membership will stay the same next year with those wishing to use the gorge trails given an option to pay an additional cost to go up to the site. 

Details of any additional costs were still to be confirmed, however they didn't want any of the cost to impact on members who won't be using it.

"It's probably going to be the same price to use a commercial shuttle for a day in Queenstown, Rotorua or around Nelson, so we'll be able to run it as efficiently as possible," Jennings said.

With the Christchurch adventure park scheduled to open in December, Jennings said there had been discussions with other centres about marketing a tourism package to allow visitors with the complete biking experience on other trails throughout the country.

"They're all great in their own way, Rotorua is fantastic but it's different to here and so is Queenstown and Christchurch in terms of the elevation and the technical aspects of each venue, so as a punter coming to New Zealand for ten days it would be a dream trip," he said.

Jennings also said the fully fenced location and gated roads on the private block of land offered somewhat of a deterrent to trespassers. 

"Even though it's not far from Nelson, it's still pretty isolated [and] when you're surrounded by big hills like Ben Nevis you'd struggle to climb up it and drop down into it," he said.

"You'd probably have to plan a two day journey to try and get in there to be honest with you, the easiest way would be to hold fire for a couple of weeks and come on one of our shuttle days."

The Wairoa Gorge lease is a further string to the bow of Nelson's mountainbiking infrastructure and comes a month after Nelson City Council agreed to provide $50,000 for the pre-commercial business case for a proposed Fringed Hill gondola and adventure park project run by the Nelson Chairlift Society.


 - Stuff


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