The Heaphy Track mountain biking season is being extended by two months in spring to run from 1 May to 30 November.
The New Zealand Conservation Authority has approved an amendment to the Kahurangi National Park Management Plan allowing the longer seven-month mountain biking season that will run for the first time this year. The mountain biking season previously ran for five months from 1 May to 30 September.
Department of Conservation Buller Operations Manager Bob Dickson said the extended mountain biking season would give mountain bikers more opportunity to ride the Heaphy Track in warmer weather.
“Most mountain bikers were riding the Heaphy Track in May and September and numbers dropped off during the winter months when colder weather, including snow, made biking the track more difficult.
“We hope the chance to now mountain bike the Heaphy Track throughout spring will encourage more people to make the ride through its stunning mountains to sea landscapes.
“We will continue to monitor the shared use of the track by mountain bikers and walkers to ensure both have a good experience. We will also continue to monitor the effects of mountain biking on native wildlife and the environment.”
Written submissions were invited last year on the proposal to extend the Heaphy Track mountain biking season. It was initially proposed to extend the season from 1 April to 30 November, excluding Easter. Following public feedback it was decided not to allow mountain biking in April due to the higher walker numbers on the track then.
The 78-km Heaphy Track goes through remote backcountry and is a tough 2-3 day ride that requires fitness, self-reliance and a reliable bike. It is a Grade 4/Advanced standard mountain biking track that can rise to Grade 5/Expert in wet and difficult conditions.
Mountain bikers should travel at safe speeds, show consideration for walkers and other bikers, and adhere to the Mountain Bikers’ Code.
DOC asks mountain bikers to ride carefully through areas where signs state Powelliphanta snails may be on the track. Riding is not allowed at night to protect the snails and great spotted kiwi/roroa.
Anyone planning to mountain bike the Heaphy Track should look on the DOC website for more information about requirements for the trip.