Work is set to begin this summer on the next phase of Waitangi Mountain Bike Park thanks to a whopping $600,000 in newly awarded grants.
The cash - $400,000 from the Northland Regional Council and $200,000 from Foundation North, formerly the ASB Community Trust - means construction of another 25km of trails can begin almost immediately.
The park's first 20km of riding trails opened last Sunday in the pine forest behind Waitangi.
With this summer's funding sorted the community trust Focus Paihia, which is behind the ambitious project, can turn its attention to raising money for the final 25km due to be built in 2017.
This season's work will be carried out by Rotorua firm Southstar Trails and Paihia's Andrew Younger Contracting.
By the time the park is finished in 2017 it will boast 75km of world-class trails in grades 2-6, with 1 the easiest and 6 the most difficult, and will have cost $2 million.
Focus Paihia chairman Grant Harnish said funding for the work done so far had come from grants, public donations and the trust's own money. The trust had put in $305,000, Foundation North $200,000 and the Far North District Council $70,000. Other sums had come from Rotary, the Lion Foundation and Pelorus Trust. The community had donated $112,000 in cash and another $150,000 in the form of labour and materials.
Bay of Islands businesses had donated everything from gravel for the carpark to timber for the fences, while inmates at Ngawha Prison built gates and carved five pou guarding the park's Bayly Rd entrance.
Mr Harnish said the main goal of the park was to boost Northlanders' health by offering a fun and inexpensive way to exercise, but the economic spin-offs would be huge. By attracting more visitors and encouraging them to stay longer, especially in the shoulder seasons, it was expected to pump $9.5 million a year into Bay businesses within 10 years.
It was by far the biggest project undertaken by Focus Paihia to date. It was also different to earlier projects because much of the work had to be done by professionals rather than volunteers.
However, volunteers had still clocked up about 7000 hours at the bike park. By comparison the transformation of a carpark into a green space on Paihia's waterfront in 2013 took 9000 hours of volunteer labour.
The project was driven by Paihia couple Tiffany and Robin Holland. During the opening, Mr Holland urged park users to sign up for "Register to Ride", a voluntary membership scheme which would pay for ongoing maintenance of the trails.
Joining cost $25 a year and entitled members to a raft of discounts from Bay of Islands businesses. See www.wmbp.nz for more information.