Date: 04 October 2013
Mountain bikers have keenly taken up the chance to ride the Heaphy Track with around 5750 people riding the track during a three-year winter mountain biking trial that concluded on 30 September.
The Department of Conservation says feedback from bikers and walkers on the Heaphy Track mountain biking trial has mostly been positive.
Conservation advisory bodies will now in the next few months consider whether mountain biking should continue on the 78 km Heaphy Track and two other Kahurangi National Park tracks.
Mountain biking as currently permitted can continue on the tracks while decisions on the future of it are made. Although this year’s Heaphy Track biking season has finished, mountain bikers can still ride the Flora Saddle to Barron Flat and Kill Devil tracks where it is allowed year-round.
A DOC report supports mountain biking continuing on the Heaphy and the other two tracks.
The report recommends consideration be given to extending the Heaphy Track mountain bike season to run from 1 March to 30 November, excluding Easter, when the Kahurangi National Park Management Plan is next reviewed which would allow for public comment on the proposal.
The report will be discussed at the Nelson Marlborough Conservation Board’s 9 October meeting and the West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board’s 21-22 November meeting. Board recommendations will go to the New Zealand Conservation Authority (NZCA) for its 11-12 December meeting to make final decisions in consultation with the Minister of Conservation.
DOC Nelson District Conservation Partnerships Manager Martin Rodd said DOC was pleased with how the mountain biking trials on the three Kahurangi National Park tracks had gone.
‘It has been great to see more people getting out and enjoying these outstanding tracks. The Heaphy Track was by far the most sought-after ride with low numbers biking the Flora Saddle to Barron Flat and Kill Devil trails.
‘More than 140 people, both mountain bikers and walkers, gave us feedback on their Heaphy Track experience during the trial. Several people expressed concern about mountain biking on the track but comment on it was for the most part favourable.
‘Minimal difficulty with walkers and mountain bikers sharing the track was reported and they were mostly considerate with each other. Although some riding at fast, unsafe speeds was reported, overall mountain biker compliance with the rules and Mountain Bikers’ Code of Conduct was high.
‘Overall the Heaphy mountain biking trial has been positive but we consider some monitoring needs to continue to manage potential impacts from mountain biking. Our DOC report recommends continuing to invite feedback from walkers and mountain bikers to monitor their track experience. We also recommend continuing to monitor mountain biking impacts on Powelliphanta snails.
The Heaphy Track is a 2-3 day ride depending on fitness, skills and conditions and many biked it as a weekend trip. It requires advanced mountain biking skills, being ranked Grade 4 rising to Grade 5/expert in wet or otherwise difficult riding conditions.
The Flora Saddle to Barron Flat trail is a one day backcountry ride between Flora car park above the Motueka River valley and Barron Flat in Upper Takaka, Golden Bay. The Flora Saddle to Gridiron Junction section of the track provides an entry level ride on a fairly flat, smooth, wide 4WD track suitable for families and beginners. The remainder of the track is a challenging and suited to intermediate/Grade 3 and advanced/Grade 4 riders.
The Kill Devil Track is a ‘there and back’ in one day or overnight ride starting and finishing in Upper Takaka, Golden Bay. It is a technically challenging ride on rough, remote terrain and is graded advanced/Grade 4 to expert/Grade 5.
Martin Rodd, Nelson District Conservation Partnerships Manager, +64 3 546 3154
Trish Grant, Communications Advisor,
+64 03 546 3146