Mountain bikers can ride the Heaphy Track for five months from Sunday 1 May.
It is the start of a winter-season mountain biking trial on the 78-kilometre Kahurangi National Park track that will run from 1 May to 30 September over three years.
Department of Conservation Golden Bay Community Relations Manager Greg Napp said the Heaphy Track trial opened up an outstanding multi-day back country riding experience.
"The Heaphy Track is highly-regarded by mountain bikers as a challenging ride through some beautiful and remote terrain. We expect quite a number of mountain bikers will be keen to take up the chance to ride it with this being the first season it is open for cycling.
"The Heaphy is graded an intermediate mountain bike trail but can be more difficult, rising to advanced grade, in wet and cold conditions. Good fitness is required.
"Experienced mountain bikers can ride the whole track in two days but less experienced riders should allow for three days. The track can also be biked partway as a day trip with riders going out the way they went in.
"We remind mountain bikers they will be sharing the track with walkers so they must travel at safe speeds. All track users must show care and consideration for others on the track.
"Cyclists must stick to the formed track and riding is not allowed at night to protect wildlife, particularly giant snails and kiwi. The track can be ridden in either direction, no more than six riders are allowed in a group.
"People intending to bike the Heaphy should check this website for more information and to book to stay in huts.
"DOC is monitoring the mountain biking trial to assess the social and environmental effects including on other people’s use and enjoyment of the track, and mountain biker’s adherence to the Mountain Bikers’ Code of Conduct and other requirements. Feedback is being invited from all track users."
The department is also monitoring year-round mountain biking trials on two other Kahurangi National Park tracks, the Flora Saddle to Barron Flat and Kill Devil tracks. Monitoring and feedback will be taken into account in determining whether mountain biking can continue on the three tracks after 2013 when the trials end.
Winter mountain biking, 1 May to 1 October, is also allowed on Gibbs Hill Track in nearby Abel Tasman National Park. The 10-kilometre Gibbs Hill Track runs between Wainui and Totaranui. People can just ride the track or make a 23-km round trip by also cycling on roads between Wainui and Totaranui.
Join us to mark the start of the Heaphy mountain biking trial
DOC is inviting the public to an event in Nelson on Monday 2 May to mark the start of the Heaphy Track mountain biking trial. Nelson MP Nick Smith will speak.
The event is at 7.15 am at the Department of Conservation Nelson Regional Visitor Centre, Millers Acre Centre, Taha o te Awa, 79 Trafalgar Street.
Those intending to attend are asked to contact Jazz Scott at DOC before Thursday 28 April for catering purposes, ph +64 3 546 3152, email firstname.lastname@example.org.