Trail Stories: Arapuke Trails

Trail Stories: Arapuke Trails

In 2013 the Manawatu Mountain Bike Club received $500 from Trail Fund NZ to assist with the purchase a storage container. You can learn more about the Manawatu Mountain Bike Club and the good work they are doing on the Arapuke Trails and further afield on their website and Facebook page.

“Build it, and they will come.”

While this statement is used for infrastructure and plans of all shapes and sizes, Manawatu Mountain Bike Club (MMBC) is confident it will hold particularly true for the trail they plan to build at Arapuke Park – with a little help from Trail Fund NZ.

“At the moment, we only have about nine kilometres of trail and people still drive up to two hours to ride here,” says club member and dedicated trail builder Bill Russell.

“There’s about 100 hectares of usable area in the 150 hectare park, and our goal is to build about five kilometres per year, so imagine how many people we’ll attract in the future!”

Located a 15-minute drive from Palmerston North and used by mountain bikers for the past few decades, Arapuke Park was acquired by the Palmerston North City Council (PNCC) in 2008. Unfortunately, due to safety concerns, the council felled most of the pine forest, which destroyed most of the existing tracks.

However, the PNCC’s vision going forward is to create a trail network suitable for biking, running and walking of all levels and abilities. The plan is to have trail construction follow on from logging in each area and to replant the park with long (50 to 100-year) crop cycle trees such as Douglas Fir and Redwood. Approximately 15% of the park is native bush and will remain that way.

The MMBC’s proposed development includes some downhill tracks, a fun Grade 2 trail that’s already built and several other Grade 4/5 options. Bill believes that, with the right support and construction, Arapuke Park could become Manawatu’s premier mountain biking destination.

“In late 2012, we received some funding from the council and started the rebuilding process,” says Bill. “Our goal is to build about 4km per year and we’re slightly ahead of schedule which is awesome – we’ve built 9km of trail so far and cleared another 6km!”

While MMBC raises a significant chunk of its funding through events, they’ve also received grants and donations from PNCC, Eastern and Central Community Trust, Ground Effect, Horizons and Trail Fund NZ.

In 2013, Trail Fund NZ donated $500 to help the club purchase a container to store its track building equipment onsite.

“Road access to the summit, where most of the track building takes place, is difficult, so building and maintenance is often limited to planned working B’s when tools can be brought to the site,” explains Bill. “The idea behind buying the container was to allow approved Club members to do informal, but more regular, work on the trails when they’re out for their regular rides.”

Bill says that, as predicted, having the container on site has been a huge help.

“We’re really glad to have this digging well underway and we have plenty of other plans for the region,” says Bill. “Manawatu may not be a mountain biking destination yet but we’re doing what we can!”

This article appeared originally in New Zealand Mountain Biker Magazine. Thanks to Carl and the team for the continued support of Trail Fund NZ.