After the ambitious idea was talked, walked and pedalled for two years, a treaty has been signed that will see a world-class mountain bike park created at Waitangi.
The non-commercial park, expected to become an international mountain biking mecca, will have 73km of tracks of differing ability levels through the 570ha Waitangi Endowment Forest pine plantations. It is expected to attract thousands of cyclists a year and do for the Bay of Islands what mountain biking has done in Rotorua. Estimates are that, within three years, the park will pump $3 million into the local economy, trebling that amount within nine years.
The plan got a $70,000 boost from the Far North District Council's 2014-2015 Annual Plan to help pay for 14km of pilot trails and encourage other funders to stump up for the larger $1.2 million development.
Award-winning community development group Focus Paihia has seen the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park concept through to the point where last Wednesday trustees signed an access and co-management deed with the Department of Conservation (DoC).
"This agreement with DoC gives us the right to build the mountain bike tracks, with certain requirements imposed, while DoC continues to manage the land," said Sarah Greener, of Focus Paihia.
Northland and the Bay of Islands lacks land-based activities for visitors and locals alike, so the park fills a real hole in the local infrastructure for leisure activities.
"With magnificent views across the area, the master-crafted trails and riding surfaces will mean beginners, family groups and experts will be able to ride for hours."
Groundwork for the first single-lane bike track is due to begin in September. The tracks will be designed by mountain biking guru Jeff Carter, of Southstar Trails. The bike park will embrace and celebrate the cultural heritage of the area.
The Waitangi Endowment Forest is part of the package of property, including the treaty house and grounds, gifted to New Zealand by Lord and Lady Bledisloe in 1934, the land intended for a commercial pine forest to help fund the Waitangi National Trust.
At last week's signing on Mt Bledisloe, overlooking Waitangi and beyond, Ngati Kawa Taituha said he believed Lord Bledisloe would approve of the park as it had been his vision for people to actively enjoy the legacy.