News | 21 January 2022
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Welly Walks: Meet Mark, kaitiaki for Mākara Peak

Mark Kent hasn’t been a Park Ranger for long, but boy does he love his new job – overseeing the Mākara Peak Mountain Bike Park.

A happy Mark Kent wearing a big smile and his green park ranger uniform, holding up a large plastic box that says Open Me, standing on a hillside with greenery and hills stretching out behind him.

It’s just been a few months since Mark traded his job as an Exhibition Project Manager at Te Papa for a life in nature.

“I’m learning the ropes and loving it. The role is very diverse, and no day is the same. As the park’s dedicated ranger, I help with the upkeep of the 50 kilometres of single track, which includes keeping a close eye on their conditions and ensuring they are kept within grade.

“The conservation aspect of the park is a big part of the job – working with the Mākara Peak Supporters and many volunteer groups to care for and plant trees.

“Our goal of planting one tree for every metre of track is working really well – this is something the volunteers and Wellington City Council have continued to do over the past 20 years. We are starting to see these planting efforts pay off with the likes of rimu and totara starting to push through the canopy.”

Mākara Peak Mountain Bike Park attracts over 100,000 visitors a year, including runners and walkers as well as bikers.

“As the ranger I like to think that my mahi helps ensure our park user experience is the best it can be and people’s day out in the park is awesome.”

Mark says working alongside the park’s community groups, assisting them with their trail building and conservation efforts, is a highlight of the job.

“It’s very rewarding to see these groups take real pride in the park, where they have a strong sense of connection and ownership.”

Mark Kent on his mountain bike wearing all the protective gear, perched next to a multi-directional sign post with about a dozen yellow signs pointing in different directions from the top of a hill.

Mark’s life centres around Mākara Peak even outside of work. He enjoys exploring the park’s vast trail network every week with his wife and their two daughters.

“It’s a great place to exercise. My family and I quite often swap out our bikes for hiking boots.”

Mark’s favourite short walking loop in the park features a swing bridge and panoramic views of the Tararua Range and Karori. It takes you through regenerating forest, which was farmland 40 years ago.

This is the sixth (and final!) Welly Walk for the 2021/22 summer series.

Clue: Start at the 4wheel drive entrance off Saint Albans Avenue, and look for the big map board of the park at the entrance. Keep walking up the road until you reach the Rimu trail on your right. Follow this trail up until you reach an intersection, where you will cross over to the Miro trail. Keep right where the Miro trail splits.

Continue along this trail for a while until you hit the Smokin' trail intersection and follow this until you see the green shipping container in the distance. There, you’ll find a collection of pickles, jams and relishes from Penny’s in Karori!

To return, walk back in the direction you came and follow the two-way section of the Miro trail that starts from the 4wd road until you reach the Rimu trail intersection. Head back out onto Saint Albans Avenue.

Visit the Makara Peak website for more information on the park and a downloadable map.