Hawke's Bay is set to tap into the multimillion-dollar mountain bike tourism sector thanks to the generosity of two well-known families.
The Lowe and Hutton families have provided access to land they own on Waimarama Rd as part of a $450,000 track network for mountain bikers and walkers connecting Havelock North village to Te Mata Peak - 24km of tracks will be part of the network.
The unique agreement with Andy and Liz Lowe and Mary and John Hutton has been put together by Hawke's Bay mountain bikers with support from the Hastings District Council.
In 2013 a group led by former adventure racer Tim Wilkins, Sport Hawke's Bay chairman Damon Harvey, engineer Russell Nettlingham and lawyers Michael Bate and Richard Stone successfully lobbied HDC to support a network of tracks that uses existing council easements if they could gain support from private landowners to also provide public access.
Group spokesman Russell Nettlingham said Stage 1 was now under way, with tracks being designed and built on the two properties owned by the Lowes and Huttons on the north-east end of Te Mata Peak.
The Lowes were so excited about the track network that they have already built an "exhilarating" 2km that will now be groomed and further developed.
The track starts on Waimarama Rd and traverses to the northern end of Te Mata Peak.
"It was a simple decision for us," Andy Lowe says.
"This is one of the most stunning settings in Hawke's Bay and walkers and riders will stop and look at the amazing backdrop of the Tukituki River, Cape Kidnappers, Ocean Beach and Napier Hill. We are investors in a new five star hotel complex in Havelock North and we've seen economic impact from the increase in mountain bike tourism in Rotorua.
"There's no doubt that this track network will rival what Rotorua has to offer."
Mary Hutton has a very close connection with the 194ha of land she and husband John are providing access to.
It has been in her family since the Depression and the couple bought the land outright from other family members in 2012.
"I explored the land as a child and the views are probably the most photographed in Hawke's Bay and feature in tourism marketing material and weddings. It's great that we can share the stunning views with walkers and riders in a way that also protects the land.
Mr Nettlingham said further good news in the past week was that $150,000 of new and improved tracks will be part of the Te Mata Peak redevelopment.
Hastings mayor Lawrence Yule said the council backed the group's vision from day one as the economic and social benefits were immense.
"We heard how mountain biking has created more than $10 million in tourism spend in Rotorua and when we saw the tracks within Te Mata Peak and how these could connect to the village, it was incredibly exciting."
A fundraising campaign will be launched to complete the project. Already $200,000 has been committed. Once built, the tracks will be maintained by the council.