Riders get 9km of new trails

By Laurel Stowell

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Rozy Rawlinson (right) watches as the Ramage family tries out a new Araheke mountain bike trail. The family are parents Keith and Rachel with Katie, 10, Jennifer, 8, and Mackensie, 6. Photo / Bevan Conley
Rozy Rawlinson (right) watches as the Ramage family tries out a new Araheke mountain bike trail. The family are parents Keith and Rachel with Katie, 10, Jennifer, 8, and Mackensie, 6. Photo / Bevan Conley

After 18 months of work Whanganui mountainbiker Rozy Rawlinson can announce the opening of 9km of new cycle trails, replacing 20km lost in Harakeke Forest.

The keen mountainbiker and tramper has done much of the work herself. The new Araheke Mountain Bike Park opens officially at 11am on Sunday.

Accessed from the carpark at Wiritoa Reserve, the ribbon will be cut by Whanganui Mayor Annette Main. Wanganui Mountain Bike Club president Mark Humphrey will speak, and then there will be guided long and short rides and competitions for children.

The opening comes just four years after the former Harakeke Mountain Bike Park was opened. The 20km of trails there were in a pine plantation handed over to Rangitikei iwi Nga Wairiki/Ngati Apa in a treaty settlement. The tribe decided to try another land use and the trails had to be closed.

That left Whanganui mountainbikers with only trails at Hylton Park and Lismore Forest, the Lismore ones only usable on Sundays.

Mrs Rawlinson wanted more, and looked around. She used to run through forestry land adjoining Lake Wiritoa and talked to Whanganui District Council. The local authority made it available for a new mountain bike park.

It is called Araheke because the lake outlet at one end is a seasonal migratory path for short-finned eels.

The park is in two parts, accessible only from the Wiritoa end and linked by a road and cycle trail past Scoutlands. Riding the whole thing takes more than an hour.

"It's not technical, but it's quite hard," Mrs Rawlinson said.

The Wiritoa end is 5ha with 3.5km of intermediate-level tracks. The Pauri end has 9.5ha of land, some of it used by a sailing club. It has 5.5km of easier "jungle" trails with animal cut-outs.

Mrs Rawlinson has spent many days there, clearing gorse and blackberry, getting new signs made, barrowing clay and laying down carpet. She has had some help, including people sentenced to community work.

"You don't have to be a member to ride here, but we're hoping riders will support the club."

Araheke can also be used by people walking and walking their dogs.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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