Trail Stories: Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park

The Makara Peak Supporters have been awarded up to $1000 by Trail Fund NZ in support of their continued efforts to make Makara Peak a world class destination for mountain biking. You can read more about their good work on their website and Facebook page.

Building something from nothing – what trail fairies do

Koru chain ring treeThere’s nothing quite as sweet as nailing that perfect corner – especially when it’s one you’ve helped build. Thanks to the significant dedication of volunteers, and generous funding from the council and a variety of organisations, many of the corners at Makara Peak in Wellington hold that feeling for the hundreds of mountain bikers who build and ride there. “Riding there now, it’s hard to believe that only 16 years ago the only tracks that existed were the 4WD ones,” says Makara Peak Supporters committee member Jamie Stewart. “In 1998, the Wellington City Council set aside 200 hectares of retired farmland and it’s exploded since then.”

Exploded is right. Once permission was granted, trail development began almost immediately, with volunteer work parties planting trees, removing pests and digging tracks. As the number of tracks and users grew, The Makara Peak Mountain Bike Supporters group (aka The Supporters) was created to manage the workload and the funding necessary to continue to maintain and build the park.

IMG_1211“The Supporters’ mission is to create a world class mountain bike park, with dual use tracks for all levels of rider, in a restored native forest,” says Jamie.

By 2012, more than 32,000 native seedlings had been planted and over 40 kilometres of singletrack built. With track levels ranging from beginner cross country options such as Koru and Lazy Fern to teeth-clenching downhills such as Trickle Falls and Ridgeline, Makara Peak already has something for everyone and there are more new tracks on the horizon.

“We wanted to create a park that could encourage beginners but challenge the experts and I think we have, but we need to continue to expand and think outside the box,” says Jamie.

While the Council owns the land and contributes to the park’s maintenance, The Supporters are always scrambling to do more by securing more grants from generous organisations, and they recently received one of Trail Funds inaugural grants for $1000.

Jamie says that while the labour is one of love, and done by the park users themselves, funding is needed for tools, materials and work party incentives, and organisations like Trail Fund play a vital role in the park’s success.

“It’s amazing how much time some of these guys and girls commit to making this park the trail mecca it is,” he says.

“We have about two work parties per week and there’s usually a decent turnout. While some people I’ve spoken to are concerned they won’t be able to offer much help, everyone and anyone can help make a difference.

“It’s also really good for the guys who come out every week to see other users putting in some effort.”

IMG_1134In its own bid to raise funding and awareness, The Supporters also host the annual Creek to Peak relay. While several other events are held at the park and contribute to trail maintenance – such as PNP Spring Series,  Revolve Cycling’s Women of Dirt relay and Xterra runs to name a few – Creek to Peak is the only one where all the proceeds go directly to supporting Makara Peak.

“It’s important for Wellingtonians to have outdoor playgrounds like Makara and, as our network of trails continues to grow, I believe Wellington will continue to grow its reputation as a mountain biking destination and city,” says Jamie.

“It’s just worthwhile to remember, as a mountain biker who rides in Wellington, that every little bit counts – whether it’s spending a few hours on a track, entering our race or buying a Trail Fund t-shirt – it’s all going to the right place… and probably that sweet corner you just flew through!”

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