More than 200 people - many of them kitted out in bike gear and itching to ride - gathered at Waitangi Forest yesterday for the opening of the Far North's first park dedicated to mountain biking.

With an initial 20km of trails Waitangi Mountain Bike Park will expand to 50km next summer and 75km by 2017, along with a "bike hub" complete with toilets, cafe, parking and bike hire.

The Focus Paihia project was a labour of love for Tiffany and Robin Holland, who wanted to give Northlanders a fun way to exercise while also boosting the Bay's economy by creating a year-round, land-based tourist attraction.