Date: 30 April 2009
Abel Tasman National Park’s Gibb’s Hill Track this week becomes the first Nelson national park track that can be mountain biked with mountain bikers able to ride it for 5 months from Friday, 1 May.
Mountain biking is being trialled during the winter visitor season, 1 May to 1 October, over 2 years on the track that runs across the park between Totaranui and Wainui Bay. Monitoring will take place to determine whether or not mountain biking should be allowed to continue on the track beyond the 2-year trial period.
The move follows a change to General Policy for National Parks which now allows mountain biking in national parks on routes specified in national park management plans. Mountain biking provisions were included in a new Abel Tasman National Park Management Plan that came into effect late last year.
DOC Golden Bay Area Manager John Mason said mountain bikers could just ride the 10-km Gibbs Hill Track or make a 23-km round trip by also cycling on roads between Wainui and Totaranui.
“We hope mountain bikers will enjoy this first riding opportunity in Abel Tasman National Park.
“Mountain biking is only permitted in the off-peak winter season when fewer people are walking the track. Mountain bikers need to adhere to the mountain bikers’ code which includes requirement to show respect and consideration to walkers.
“Monitoring during the trial period will assess mountain biking impacts including environmental effects and any impacts on other people’s use and enjoyment of the track. If the impacts are found to be minimal and acceptable then mountain biking will be allowed to continue on the track.”
The Department is also reminding mountain bikers that biking is not allowed on the Heaphy Track and other Kahurangi National Park tracks.
“Mountain biking is illegal on the Heaphy Track and elsewhere in Kahurangi National Park under park bylaws now in place. People can be prosecuted under the bylaws for mountain biking in the national park.
“Options for mountain biking in Kahurangi National Park are presently being considered in a partial review of the park’s management plan. What mountain biking can take place in the park won’t be established until the review is completed and a new reviewed management plan is in place specifying the mountain bike access allowed.
“The public will have the chance to comment on proposals for mountain biking in the park when a draft reviewed management plan is released for public submissions, expected to be before the middle of this year. Public submissions will be taken into account in preparing a final draft reviewed plan for consideration by the Nelson/Marlborough Conservation Board and then the New Zealand Conservation Authority.”
Gibbs Hill Track can be cycled in either direction. It is graded as an intermediate-level mountain biking track. No more than eight riders are allowed in a group. Mountain biking is not allowed on other tracks in the area.
Mountain biking is also now allowed year-round on a short section of another Abel Tasman National Park track. The Moa Park Track can be cycled, between the turnoff on the Rameka Track – which is legal road and currently used for mountain biking – and the Wainui Track turnoff. This section of track links with a mountain bike track being developed in the adjoining Canaan Downs Scenic Reserve, providing a round trip.
The current Kahurangi National Park Management Plan came into effect in 2001. Under the General Policy for National Parks in place at the time, mountain bikes were categorised as vehicles which were prohibited in national parks except on formed roads.
John Mason, DOC Golden Bay Area Manager, phone +64 3 525 8026.
Trish Grant, DOC Nelson/Marlborough communications advisor, phone +64 3 546 3146.