News | 26 June 2024
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Ain't no mountain high enough for college enviro-club

Students walking or biking to Wellington East Girls School from ‘over the hill’ had a problem.

image of child digging the track
The enviro-club of Wellington East Girls School building the track

With the school located on the city-side of Mt Victoria, students could take the shorter but narrow, noisy and fume-filled shared path through Mt Victoria tunnel, or navigate an unmaintained, steep track over the hill, scale the 2-metre-high fence at the bottom, and hopefully get to school in one piece and on time. 

The college’s enviro-club members wanted a way for students from the eastern suburbs to get to school that was pleasant, safe, convenient, and good for the environment.  

Lucy and Maya, two enviro-club leaders, say: “We often walked over an extremely steep track which was completely impossible to bike up. We wanted to make it more accessible for people to bike and walk to our school so they could have a nice commute through the bush, instead of the fume-filled tunnel.”  

The students laid out their idea to create an easy commuter track over Mt Victoria to school, with support from Wellington City Council schools’ liaison officer Alex Litherland, from the Climate Change Response team.  

With the newly built Cambridge Terrace bike lane just 500-metres down the hill from school, the connection would complete a missing link through Wellington’s green belt for students and city workers in the eastern suburbs to the growing bike network.  

A few things fell into place. Jonathan Kennett, Council project manager for several of Wellington’s new bike routes, had already been thinking about a set of ‘commuter links’ that would get people on bikes through Wellington’s parks and reserves to the road-based bike network.   

Wellington city had also recently been awarded a grant from the Bloomberg Initiative for Cycling Infrastructure to help give people more options for getting around, and a network of link tracks fit the bill.     

Over three weekends, the enviro-club built the new track by hand. Supported by teachers and the volunteer Matairangi Trail Builders and Wellington City Council, the old track was widened, re-routed where it was too steep, retained, re-surfaced, and last of all, a gate was installed in the fence.  

“I've ridden the track many times now, and the thing that pleasantly surprised me most is how easy it is to ride up,” Lucy says. “The trails on Mt Vic are all quite steep, however this one is a super comfortable ride.”  

Nature is a big part of the experience, says Maya.

“I really like that it gives me a chance to reconnect with the outdoors after being inside all day. We're super excited to see how people continue to use the trail, and we're positive it's going to make a great impact for future East students."

This is the last year at college for some of the enviro-club leaders, but they’re not done yet. The club is looking at setting up group rides to support less confident riders to have a go on Wellington’s bike network which now, thanks to them, connects more conveniently to their school.