Paihia kids can now hone their cycling skills, have fun and get fit in safety thanks to a new bike track on the school grounds.
Paihia School's 30m x 50m pump track includes six berms, plenty of rollers and a central loop for little kids new to cycling. It took a month to build and was officially opened earlier this month.
It isn't the only pump track in the Far North but it is the only one with an asphalt surface, which means it can be used by bikes, scooters and skates, and should last many years without the constant maintenance required for dirt tracks.
Paihia resident Tiffany Holland, the driving force behind the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park, said she had been considering building a pump track to give kids the skills needed to tackle the trails under construction in Waitangi Forest when Paihia School principal Jane Lindsay suggested building it on the school field.
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It was designed by mountain bike guru Jeff Carter of South Star Trails, the same firm which is building the bike park, with Bay of Islands firms doing the asphalting and donating the 360cu m of fill required. It was paid for by Paihia School with help from grants organisations. Mrs Holland said anyone in the community could use the pump track.
"It's so dangerous to ride on the roads up here. We really wanted a safe place for kids to master their bike skills. It's also about improving physical and mental health, and encouraging families to go biking more often."
The Waitangi Mountain Bike Park had been due to open in May but it is understood to be held up by a delay in obtaining permission from the Department of Conservation for a car park. So far South Star Trails has built 10 trails totalling 21km. Work is under way on a beginners' loop for children who have mastered the pump track at Paihia School but aren't yet ready for the forest trails.
Mrs Holland hoped the bike park could be opened to locals this winter with an official opening in spring.
Mrs Lindsay said she was grateful to everyone who had given up their time to make the pump track a reality.