Unauthorised biking trails removed to restore nature

10 June 2020

Wellington City Council has started work closing a number of unauthorised mountain bike tracks and restoring the damaged areas to their natural state at Te Ahumairangi Hill, Mount Victoria and Huntleigh Park.

View between two trees of a man on a mountain bike riding down a steep dirt track.

The Capital’s mountain biking tracks are some of the most popular destinations for recreational activities, but unauthorised tracks threaten native flora and fauna, and pose a risk to the safety of other reserve users.

Te Ahumairangi Hill is also home to a critically endangered snail and native birds such as kererū, kākāriki and kārearea.

Council has been working with Te Ahumairangi Hill Ecological Restoration and Wellington Mountain Bike Club for several years to help educate bikers, but the problem persists.

This unauthorised track building is the work of a small minority who don’t represent the wider mountain biking community, says Mayor Andy Foster.

“As a keen mountain biker and mountain runner myself, we've had a great partnership for over 20 years with clubs and volunteers who work tirelessly creating and maintaining tracks.

“Right from the start of Makara Peak in 1998, conservation has sat firmly alongside track building with at least one tree being planted for every metre of track created. The mountain bike community is also heavily involved in pest eradication.

“Council and community working together has meant Wellington has one of the world’s best urban track networks, as well as continuing our journey to restore the City’s natural environment.

“We know our community are passionate about restoring our City’s natural environment. It was wonderful to see so many people out enjoying our tracks and reserves during the Covid-19 Alert Level 4 lockdown, but we need to put some measures in place to protect the environment – for everyone to enjoy.”

The removing of these unauthorised tracks and restoring the natural habitat is in response to community concerns and the safety of non-bikers using the area, says Environment Portfolio Lead Councillor Teri O’Neill.

“Wellington’s natural areas are for all to enjoy, but we need to share our home – this is especially important for our vulnerable critters and biodiversity. Unfortunately, the escalation in destruction of habitats has scaled up again and so we ask everyone to respect the space and stick to the proper trails.

“We are working with the mountain bike community on ways that we can share this space – and have committed to looking into biking tracks and trail opportunities in other areas.

“These places also have their own have intrinsic value, and as a city we are on a sustained long term journey to protect and restore our natural environment,” adds Councillor O’Neill.

Over the past 25 years, with the approval and support of the Wellington City Council, members of the mountain bike community have helped build a great trail network, planted almost two million trees and fostered ecological restoration across Wellington says John Baddiley, Wellington Mountain Bike Club President.

“Whilst there is an acknowledged scarcity of ‘grade 5’ technical trails, building or modifying trails without authorisation is not the way to approach the problem. The Wellington Mountain Bike Club is continuing discussions with the Council on this and addressing this shortfall, and looks forward to further enhancing the trail network for all users.”

Once the work has been done to restore the areas, Council and rangers will monitor the sites. Trespass notices may be issued to protect the area.