Backcountry projects across New Zealand receive over $65,000 for volunteer-led work
Trail Fund NZ is pleased to announce that six clubs from around the country will receive over $65,000 in total to support volunteer-led work in New Zealand’s backcountry. From Northland to the West Coast and Central Otago, clubs and trusts were excited to find out they had received funding for mountain-bike accessible track maintenance, upgrades and signage.
This funding is made possible by a $700,000 grant from the Department of Conservation’s Community Conservation Partnership Fund. The grant is being managed by the NZ Outdoor Recreation Consortium, which is comprised of three not-for-profit organisations – Federated Mountain Clubs, New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association and Trail Fund NZ. This is the second round of funding managed by Trail Fund NZ since the grant was issued, with 11 clubs being funded in November 2014.
“These grants are geared towards giving backcountry users greater ownership of the facilities they care passionately about,” says Trail Fund NZ chairperson Ben Wilde. “It was great to have so many applicants keen to take advantage of the opportunity, and we were pleased to fund or partly-fund the majority of the requests.
“The funding is going towards tracks throughout the country – including Flat Top Hill in Alexandra, Te Iringa near Hawke’s Bay and Old Ghost Road on the West Coast, to name a few. Some of these clubs have already put funding received in the first round to good use, while others are first-time recipients. We look forward to seeing the outcomes and hearing about the improvements they’ve made to the backcountry experience!”
The Department of Conservation was also glad to see such great projects being funded.
“We’re thrilled to see how well the Consortium is working and the effort they’ve put into funding quality proposals,” said DOC recreation advisor Andy Thompson. “It’s great to see organisations that care passionate about the outdoors heading the funding distribution in their area of focus.
“The aim of the fund is to maintain and enhance our backcountry facilities, rather than building lots of new tracks. It’s exciting to see New Zealanders engaging in this new mechanism and how it’s enabling people to get out there and look after the places they care so much about. It’s more than we could do on our own.”
Successful applicants include Mohikiuni-Lyell Backcountry Trust, Castle Hill Community Association (Christchurch), Kauaeranga Mountain Bike Trails Trust (Northland), Mountainbikers of Alexandra, Bike Taupo, Mana Cycle Group (north of Wellington). See below for a full list of recipients, projects and funding.
There are some surplus funds and Trail Fund NZ will announce how they will be distributed soon.
Work already underway
Mountain Bikers of Alexandra (MoA) were thrilled to find out they’d been approved for a second lot of funding this week. Thanks to the initial support it received in November – $3,000 for tools and signage – the club recently improved two existing trails on Flat Top Hill, an 813-hectare conservation area aptly named for its miniature block mountain shape.
“Mountain bikers have used the area sporadically, using retired vehicle access roads as tracks,” says MOA member Dave Fearnley. “However, due to the many steep, fall-line sections – which are impossible to ride up and unrewarding to ride down – it’s never been popular.”
With the creation of the Roxburgh Gorge Cycleway in 2013, MOA saw the opportunity to increase Alexandra’s biking options and approached DOC about building mountain bike-friendly tracks in the conservation area. An agreement was signed in August 2014 and, with funding from Trail Fund NZ and other sources, local trail builders have been hard at work since then.
“We’ve built 2.5km of new track needed to complete a 12km Grade 3 loop track and re-worked multiple sections of the pre-existing tracks – both in the loop and the Grade 5 ‘Rock of Doom’ connection to the Roxburgh Gorge Cycleway,” says David.
He and MOA member Phil Oliver led the charge. Using a lawn mower to mark the initial trail and loosen the stubborn thyme bushes that cover the hills, they followed it up by hand.
“With steep terrain, layers of rock and rare native bushes to navigate, building the new uphill section – to avoid the steep and painful existing one – was fairly challenging and took us about a month to complete,” says Dave. “However, we’ve had a number of volunteers come out to help and, at one work party, we had 24 people turn up!”
The yet-to-be-named 12km loop is fairly narrow singletrack, with tight rocky switchbacks to negotiate and some steep sections that pry you out of the saddle.
“The climb is well worth the expansive views of Central Otago and, for those who love a challenge, the 2km Rock of Doom descent tests technical and mental capacity,” says Dave.
The next stage of development aims to incorporate less technical options and improve links to the Cycleway.
|Recipient||Location||Project details||Allocated Funding|
|Mohikiuni- Lyell Backcountry Trust||Old Ghost Road, West Coast||Making the last section rideable – volunteer costs||$8,768.95|
|Castle Hill Community Association||Craigieburn||Maintenance, T5 contracting and materials||$15,000|
|Mountainbikers of Alexandra||Flat Top Hill, Alexandra||Upgrade tracks – tools & trail clearing||$413.29|
|Kauaeranga MTB Trails Trust||Thames||Trail clearing||$14,950|
|Hawkes Bay MTB Club/Bike Taupo||Te Iringa||Upgrade/clearing of track||$11,063|
|Mana Cycle Group||North of Wellington||Upgrading of dual-use trail – tree felling, contractor||$15,000|