A mountain biking capital

April 30th, 2014 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

The Dom Post reports:

could become the urban mountainbiking capital of the world, a group of city bike enthusiasts say.

They have asked Wellington City Council for $60,000 to create a business plan and unlock “a unique global opportunity” which could bring multimillion-dollar benefits.

The attraction lies in the central city’s proximity to world-class tracks which could put it up with Rotorua and Queenstown as a destination for mountainbikers in New Zealand.

The next time I’m in Queenstown, I’m definitely taking a mountain bike up the Gondola. Looks great fun. A visit to Rotorua to mountain bike is also planned.

Wellington Offroad Riding Department instructor Ash Burgess said no other city had such good tracks close to downtown.

“In 10 minutes you can be on beautiful trails, and we want to capitalise on that,” he said.

Businessmen Matt Farrar and Anthony Edmonds told the council economic growth and arts committee yesterday that the city had to take the chance to become a “jewel in the crown” of New Zealand mountainbiking.

They believed a 10-year investment could lead to the capital attracting more tourists, more business and more skilled migrants from overseas.

Tourists would stay longer in the city and it could attract more people looking for adventure tourism opportunities as well as potential new Wellingtonians.

“There are a lot of people like us out there who want to go biking without getting into a car,” Farrar said. “Here you have the opportunity to bike to work, to commute back [home] or go for a ride at lunchtime. [It is] unique by New Zealand and global standards.”

Wellington is great in having trails so close to the CBD. But I agree with Matt Farrar (no relation apart from the fact we have the same parents) that you want to be able to go biking without needing a car. As a new cyclist I’ve learnt that taking your bike into the city is semi-suicidal!

Rotorua’s mountainbike sector was worth an estimated $15 million a year, forecast to grow to $30m.

Mountainbike trails could be an alternative to cycle lanes through some parts of the city, Farrar suggested, and the group would look at funding from the New Zealand Transport Agency.

Edmonds said there was real money in biking and an investment would be good business.

Councillors made some positive comments about the idea, with Nicola Young saying it was “really exciting”.

There’s heaps of people crazy about mountain biking. They’ll travel and spend to be able to cycle. Some people will even decide which city to live in, on the basis of how good they are for .

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27 Responses to “A mountain biking capital”

  1. CJPhoto (222 comments) says:

    Why does a business case cost $60k!

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  2. alex Masterley (1,517 comments) says:

    Surely the promoters should front up with the business case, not the council (and it’s long suffering ratepayers).

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  3. matthewl (1 comment) says:

    I agree Wellington has huge potential for mountain biking but if it is going to build tracks it needs to build higher quality tracks for average and beginner riders, i.e. not like the typical Wellington goat tracks. They need to be wider with more berming and smoother. There aren’t many family tracks in Wellington.

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  4. Ross12 (1,432 comments) says:

    But the Opposition said cycle ways were a waste of time and didn’t create jobs etc. when JK first promoted them a few years back!! So it has to be a waste of money ! / sarc.

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  5. cas (39 comments) says:

    If you are going to Rotorua extend your trip and do the Motu Trails as well. Gets great vibes from the Kennett brothers and the Tirohanga link on the Dunes trail is opening on June 8. A big project for a small community.

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  6. KiwiGreg (3,255 comments) says:

    21st century entrepreneurship in New Zealand:

    “They have asked Wellington City Council for $60,000 to create a business plan and unlock “a unique global opportunity” which could bring multimillion-dollar benefits.”

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  7. Ed Snack (1,883 comments) says:

    So where are these “10 minutes away” trails, Mt Vic ? Rotorua’s are 5 minutes away and there’s a hell of a network in the forests. Or are they talking cycleways ?

    My personal favourite is the Woodhill trails just North out of Auckland towards Helensville. It’s on well consolidated sand amongst pines so it is never muddy and rarely wet although it can in a few places get soft. There’s a huge range of trails as well for a range of abilities, and it’s rarely too steep for the likes of me.

    And thanks cas, I must look up those Motu trails but they really need to get their website fixed, almost every link in it to trail descriptions and the like ends in a “404”, which is not helpful !

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  8. Joely Doe (31 comments) says:

    The next time I’m in Queenstown, I’m definitely taking a mountain bike up the Gondola. Looks great fun.

    Great idea! Just make sure your ACC and medical insurance is paid up! Luge was great, thought would give the MTB a go. Green tracks good, Blue tracks ok but lots of care, Black tracks are for nutters. 3 trips down, getting the hang of it, decide to have a jump. Ambulances called, transferred from Lakes District hospital and then spent 3 nights in Invercargill Hospital, with a broken shoulder blade, collarbone, 6 ribs and tore a hole in lung. Back riding again in 4 weeks. No so bad.

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  9. dime (9,980 comments) says:

    “Why does a business case cost $60k!”

    seems cheap.. when compared to willie jackson wanting 500 grand to give away 3 million of govt cash lol

    why do people always have their hands out? councils are an easy mark too

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  10. Kea (12,841 comments) says:

    “no other city had such good tracks close to downtown.”

    Nelson.

    Mountain biking might help to keep the Road Lice off our working highways. I encourage it. :)

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  11. big bruv (13,935 comments) says:

    As a born and bred Wellingtonian it never ceases to amaze me that the people of that city seem to have collective amnesia when it comes to one thing.

    The weather is rubbish!

    Quite how you are going to sell Wellington as the mecca for mountain biking is hard to fathom, while mountain bikers like hills and the like there is not one that I know of who likes riding into a force nine gale. Given that Wellington has about 300 days a year when it is blowing you simply cannot sell the place as anything other than a city to do things indoors.

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  12. wf (448 comments) says:

    Yes but Big Bruv, when you get into the trees the wind isn’t a problem. But on the whole I agree, it’s better to stay inside.

    I have TWO acquaintances who are recovering from head injuries from tipping off their bikes – tree roots and rocks can be tricky – while they were wearing helmets too! One is still a bit doolally after 2 years.

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  13. James Stephenson (2,191 comments) says:

    My personal favourite is the Woodhill trails just North out of Auckland towards Helensville.

    Except that it’s an hour each way from central Auckland, so there’s two hours gone before you even clip into your pedals. I can do more than 50km on my roadbike in that time.

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  14. gump (1,650 comments) says:

    @alex Masterley

    “Surely the promoters should front up with the business case, not the council (and it’s long suffering ratepayers).”

    ——————————-

    I expect the issue is that the proposed trails are all on Council owned land.

    The promoters can’t develop trails on Council land without working closely with the Council.

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  15. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    big bruv (12,409 comments) says:
    April 30th, 2014 at 1:02 pm

    As a born and bred Wellingtonian it never ceases to amaze me that the people of that city seem to have collective amnesia when it comes to one thing.

    The weather is rubbish!

    Quite how you are going to sell Wellington as the mecca for mountain biking is hard to fathom, while mountain bikers like hills and the like there is not one that I know of who likes riding into a force nine gale. Given that Wellington has about 300 days a year when it is blowing you simply cannot sell the place as anything other than a city to do things indoors.

    Where I work there are about a dozen young professional guys in their 20s, half of them are expat Poms or Canadians or American.

    Anyway, they all went for a mountain bike session out at Makara a couple of weekends ago, and they came back buzzing with superlatives like “it’s AMAZING” and “It’s SO MUCH BETTER than any trail riding I ever did in Canada!” and “I can not BELIEVE this place isn’t world famous!” etc etc etc.

    Now, I know young 20-something professionals have a propensity to talk it up, but there was a pretty consistent theme there… ;-)

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  16. Ed Snack (1,883 comments) says:

    James, and I can do 60 km on a road bike (or I could…), but I can also spend 4-5 hours cruising a whole range of tracks with my sons (and have done since they were old enough to ride) and not worry about the traffic. It’s big, good terrain, great under-wheel (though quite a few tree roots), chose your own level of structures (X, XX, and some XXX is OK, I’ve mastered the temptation to go XXXX (age is a great modifier !), and it’s not too far to go.

    I’ve also ridden a bit at Rotorua (and competed in 6 & 12 hour races there), Taupo, Hawkes Bay (Esk & Pukeora which is now closed), Invercargill; and I like Woodhill the most. But they’ve all got their points.

    I was keen to ride the Heaphy, but having hiked it recently I’m not so sure. Bits of it look wonderful…and bits look dire. Must try Nelson area next time, and there’s riding around Takaka hill as well, and through from Flora carpark to Cobb Valley Rd I think.

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  17. James Stephenson (2,191 comments) says:

    Yes Ed, I’m very familar with Woodhill, but if I can sneak 3 hrs away from the kids, I’m not wasting two of them in the car.

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  18. RRM (9,933 comments) says:

    Mountain biking might help to keep the Road Lice off our working highways. I encourage it. :)

    Don’t be silly! What it does, is attracts them.

    Plenty of the road lice like to ride all the way out Karori Road to the mountain bike park.

    They don’t like stopping at the traffic lights by the Library, or at the pedestrian crossings by the schools.

    They DO like riding away from the kerb in the proper traffic lane, to make sure everyone else has to grind up the hill at 10km/h just like them.

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  19. Kea (12,841 comments) says:

    RRM @ 1:29pm, Mountain Biking is largely a social marker used for class distinction among white middle class pricks. You will not see many Indian, Samoan, Maori or Chinese riding push bikes in the mountains. :)

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  20. s.russell (1,642 comments) says:

    I too have just taking up biking, though I prefer roads and hard tracks, rather than hard core MTB stuff. There is a great network of trails around Queenstown – you do not have to go up the gondola. I especially recommend the trail from Arrowtown out to the Gibbston Valley (via the famous bungy bridge, and a fab swingbridge across the kawarau River). Quiet country roads are great too. I just got back a few minutes ago from a 2hr ride south of Wyndham.

    I have been on parts of the Otago Central Rail Trail (as you have) and also the Alps to Ocean Trail, the Clutha Gold Trail and the Roxburough Gorge Trail. But the whole network of cycle trails that is developing in New Zealand is amazing. It is making New Zealand into a world cycling mecca – to the huge benefit of NZ tourism. Thank you John Key!

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  21. Maggy Wassilieff (413 comments) says:

    Once upon a time I used to be able to wander around all of Wellington’s Reserves in blissful peace. No savage dogs off leads & no speeding cyclists intent on mowing down old ladies. i’m not so nimble on my pins these days and its a bugger clinging to cliff-side whitey-woods as old inconsiderate fools whizz by. To date I have found most of the younger cyclists will inform me if there’s another bike following….but not the old buggas.

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  22. johnwellingtonwells (137 comments) says:

    If anyone encounters Celcilia riding her bike on a track, please give her a push from me

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  23. igm (1,413 comments) says:

    johnwellington: It nearly happened in J’ville but the car driver was incompetent.

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  24. Hamish_NZ (46 comments) says:

    You don’t need council money to make Wellington mountain biking more popular, you need those that are into it to be it’s promoters. Paid promotion is always try hard, and there’s nothing mountain bikers hate more than a try hard who thinks they’re gods gift. That’s what wellington will be if they go ahead with this plan.
    The way to do it is having the council enable mountain biking development, and that costs nothing. Make it easier to build new tracks by allowing tracks to be built by anyone within most areas of the green belt. The best tracks are always built by passionate riders. Once that’s done the council’s role is largely over, apart from perhaps a bit of website promotion of the mountain bike network. The work of getting the word out is the task of all welly riders, invite your out of town mates for a fang, talk to others at the next event your riding in. Get the clubs inviting industry mags to Welly to ride the tracks, and write about them in the mags.
    All that costs bugger all, and significantly less than $60k of ratepayers cash. If it’s successfully done then the council can poney up a bit of cash for upgrading facilities like toilets and carparks etc. But to ask for the cash at the start without putting in the hard yards first, that’s just lazy, and to be honest, typically Wellington think. Do the hard yards and the rewards will follow.

    But Wellingtons biggest issue with this plan is its weather. No one likes getting out on the bike when the rain is being blown sideways, and there’s no trees to shelter under. With most of your trails on mount vic, that’s always going to be a hinderance to you that neither Queenstown or Rotorua have to worry much about.

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  25. Viking2 (11,491 comments) says:

    Well you could try Wainuiomata. Its a big valley with lots of hills, some sheltered. Trev could give you’se guidance.

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  26. Left Right and Centre (2,986 comments) says:

    I thought traffic lights were just for non-cyclists ?

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  27. bikerboi (1 comment) says:

    I have picked Wellington over Auckland as a place to base my business, because of the amazing riding that is right near the city. From my office in Lambton Quay I can be riding in Aro Valley or Mt Vic in minutes. Business opportunity plus life style all in one package. That’s what makes Wellington awesome.

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