The Waitangi Mountain Bike Park
You could say that the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park is ‘tucked away in plain sight’ just a hop, skip and jump (OK, a short car ride then) north of the famous Treaty Grounds.
Access is via the rather well known Haruru Falls and lesser-known Bayly Road with best (from the south) access via Highways 1, 10 & 11 from Kawakawa and Moerewa.
The brainchild of keen local Mtbers Tiffany and Robin Holland, the park is ‘housed’ (if that is the right word!) in the Waitangi Endowment Forest, a smallish block of mainly pine trees in a natural amphitheatre-like valley overlooking Wairoa Bay.
Though it was Tiffany and Rob who came up with the idea, it was the local Focus Paihia Community Charitable Trust which turned the idea into reality.
Today, just two-and-a-bit years after the park first opened the original 20km of dedicated MTB trails has grown to over 40kms, user/visitor numbers are running well ahead of expectation, and several jobs have been created in the ‘Bay area based on the increase in MTB activity associated with the Park and the new Twin Coast Cycle Trail from Opua on the east coast to Horeke (on the Hokianga).
Somewhere new With the drive time being more or less the same from Auckland to the Bay of Islands as it is from Auckland to Rotorua (allow yourself three and a half hours each way with stops) the attraction for a keen MTBER like my good self is simply to ride somewhere new.
The big attraction of the Waitangi Park, compared to my own regular stomping ground(s) of the Woodhill and Riverhead Forests is the easier point of entry.
Anyone, and everyone with a suitable bike and helmet (which you can hire in Paihia), is welcome, all you have to do is jump online (to www. wmbp.nz) and register, make an (annual) donation of $25 or a daily one of $10.
I turned up – after a late start and the fantastic route diversion I talk about in the other sidebar story – on a lovely early spring Saturday. I had a bit of a nose around the car park and site base (as you do) then set about unhooking my trusty old Spesh Pitch Pro from the roofrack-mounted Whispbar WB201 bike rack Suzuki dealers are currently offering as an option when you buy a Vitara.
Then it was just a matter of a quick change into my MTB baggies, riding top and shoes, and off I tootled up the nice, flat access road into the park.
To the top! My goal, before I got there was fairly simple, to recce the Park and report back to my Auckland riding buddies ahead of a possible ‘team assault’ over the Xmas/new Year holiday period. By the time I had left the gravel access road and had started on one of the smooth, flowing clay/gravel composite tracks and started easing upwards, I decided to extend my stay and try to make it to ‘the top’ to get a classic 'looking down on the Bay' photo.
It took a bit of doing but I must say the ‘up trails’ are much more benign than those I have learned to live with (the brutal ‘Reverse Psychology’ being the best example) at Auckland’s Woodhill Park.