New Zealand Mountain Bike Web

20 November 2011

The recreational value of Whakarewarewa Forest

Just received this blurb about some research into the monetary value of Whakarewarewa Forest to mountain bikers, which makes for interesting reading:


A new forestry study has highlighted the importance of New Zealand’s plantation forests for recreational purposes.

Day by day, week by week, thousands of mountain bikers and walkers already make the most of the country’s forests for outdoor adventure.  But this added value to our downtime has never been assessed in monetary terms.

Now, the recreational assets of Whakarewarewa Forest near Rotorua have been calculated at five times the forest’s annual timber revenue – for mountain biking alone.

This result is consistent with other similar studies in the developed world showing that non-market values are higher than tangible forests products such as logs, wood and pulp.

The findings come from a study by Crown Research Institute Scion based on a survey of 709 forest users. The study provides an economic measure of the community good that forests provide – free of charge - compared with the value of the forest for timber.

Researchers employed an economic valuation tool called ‘travel cost method’ to calculate the forest’s annual recreational value in simple terms by multiplying the estimated average value per visit by the number of visits each year.

The formula shows that Whakarewarewa Forest has a median recreational value of $5.2 million for walking and $10.2 million for mountain biking per year.

Jane Arnott, chief executive of NZ Wood, says New Zealand forests currently add $4.6 billion to export revenues, but just as importantly at the ground level, they provide superb facilities for recreational joys – often at no extra charge to the user.

“Without plantation forests and their helpful owners and managers many New Zealanders would have to go without their recreational hobby of choice, from mountain biking to horse riding or walking,” she said.

“Forests provide a sheltered, robust environment that’s ideal for year-round family adventure.

“And what’s really great about our plantation forests is that while the majority are owned offshore, and represent multi-million dollar pension funds, absolutely everyone can enjoy them,” Ms Arnott said.

In New Zealand, 26.2 million days are spent on recreation each year, with forest activities accounting for a major proportion.

Of those, mountain biking is growing fast.

According to Statistics NZ, there has been a 93 per cent increase in the number of bikes imported, compared with 10 years ago. And the number of cyclists grew by 81 per cent between 2000 and 2008.

New Zealand forests contain some of the ‘world’s most outstanding’ bike tracks, according to Bike New Zealand, and seen by the masses of riders heading for well-worn tracks every weekend at Auckland’s Woodhill Forest, Whakarewarewa Forest, or Eskdale Mountain Bike Park in Napier.

This trend is likely to continue with the total number of forest visitors expected to climb one per cent per year to 2014.

This research shows that forests are even more of an investment into the future with the potential to provide significant recreational value on top of their timber value.

The benefits of these resources can only continue to grow.


Reference: Non-timber Values from Planted Forests: Recreation in Whakarewarewa Forest; 
James A. Turner, Bhubaneswor Dhakal, Richard Yao, Tim Barnard and Colin Maunder 
NZ JOURNAL OF FORESTRY, February 2011 Vol. 55 No. 4

For more information please contact: Jane Arnott CEO NZ Wood 021 807 002

06 May 2011

Travelling Light and Long

Long and Light – the way of the Dirt Brevet

By Simon Kennett, as published in NZ MTBer

There's a new style of mountain biking slowly spreading across the globe – call it a dirt brevet, bikepacking, or fat tyre randoneering if you like. It doesn't matter. It's about travelling light and covering big distances. Eighty kilometres a day is good for a starter; 250 kilometres isn't out of the question. When that includes gravel roads and dirt tracks, you can expect to be riding from dawn to dusk.

Sometimes it's an event, like the Tour Divide; usually it's just a bunch of mates out to see as much of the country as they can in a long weekend. Of course, the best way to see the country is from the saddle of a bike. The best way to see a lot of country is to travel light and quick.

New Zealand is well blessed with rough-stuff touring terrain. Where else could you see rainforest, glaciers, alps and grasslands all in the same day? Over 35 000 kilometres of quiet sealed roads, a similar number of unsealed road kilometres, 200+ mountain bike rides,and countless 4WD tracks provide almost endless opportunites. But our young terrain demands good gear choice, as well as good legs. After 25 years of touring, I'm still learning, but here's the set-up I enjoyed at the recent 500km Te Tawhio o Whanganu:

29er – the big wheels roll a little easier over rocky roads

Stans Crow tyres – minimal tread means low rolling resistance and light weight. At 40 PSI they will absorb most normal road shock.

Front Suspension – comfort, even on 4WD tracks, is a big part enjoying a long day off pavement

Aero bars (with extra padding) – a handy place to hang a bag, rest a map, and a position that gives hammered palms a chance to recover. Useful in a headwind, too.

Front bag – 5 ltr dry bag, for clothes

Seat bag – About 5 ltr, for tools, first aid, food, rear light, etc

Spare tube taped above BB – tucked out of the way

Gear carried:

Sleeveless riding top

Woolen riding top

Long-sleeve top

Lycra shorts x2 (with talc powder)

Pair of baggies

Wool socks x2 pair

Long fingered gloves




Sun block

Lip save

First aid kit

Spoon & can opener


Ear plugs




Spare tube taped to frame

Cell phone

Cash and Cards

Contact details & guidbook notes





Reflective ankle bands


2 large water bottles (1x H2O, 1x Sports drink)


2-4 Bananas

Peanut M&Ms

Raisin biscuits or OSM

Salty Cashews

Fresh fruit

Emergency Powerbar & drink powder

Total bike and gear weight = 15kg

The weight is critical for touring in most parts of New Zealand. The Tawhio had over 6 000 metres of climbing in four days, which is normal when using scenic backroads. On the most adventurous routes, some bike pushing is often part of the deal - you must be able to carry your loaded bike. If you carry enough gear to be prepared for every possible problem you might encounter, you'll have created a problem that you can be sure you'll encounter (right from the very first pedal stroke).

Gear I also considered:

Small backpack to increase food carrying capacity, and water purification tablets. Not needed as towns were fairly close together.

Small sleeping bag, bivvy bag and closed cell foam mat (on a Freeload rack). Not needed due to good accommodation options available. However, lightweight summer camping gear needn't increased the load by more than 2 kg, and it opens up a huge array of itinerary options.

Gear I wish I'd had:

A couple more maps (1:50,000 topomaps)

Chammy cream

Pack towel

02 February 2011

Ten of the best tracks in New Zealand, and the clubs behind them

Keep on clubin’

By Jonathan Kennett 2010 [This article was previously published in Spoke Magazine]

Here’s to the clubbers. Between Cape Reinga and Bluff, there are more than 50 mountain bike parks, with over a thousand trails, and at least 100 new ones being built right now, while you’re reading this article. Almost every single one of them has a club behind it; a group of dedicated enthusiasts who are rapidly carving out the best single track in Gods-own. What follows is a tribute to ten extraordinary clubs, and the riding pleasure they have created.

Whakarewarewa – most popular club trails

Famous Fred Christianson was ahead of his time. He started sculpting tracks in the forest near Rotorua in the mid 1990s, but for several years now it has been the Rotorua Mountain Bike Club that has taken Whakarewarewa from strength to strength. They now proudly claim to have the oldest, and most popular mountain bike park in the country. With 100 ks of well-signposted single track, a dedicated treadhead could spend several days riding themselves silly in the forest at Whakarewarewa. And in recent years they have gone from being short squiggly trails to long point-to-point rides that provide a satisfying sense of journey and accomplishment. And when you are finally shattered, there’s the hot pools to recover in. Pick up a trail map for $5 at any bike shop in Rotorua or check out

Taupo - friendliest club

BikeTaupo are the most enthusiastic crew of trail pixies on the planet, and the amount on new track they’ve built in the last two years is incredible. You may have heard of the W2K (Whakaipo Bay to Kinloch) Track that was officially opened last year. Well, in April this year they officially opened another track! The Headland Loop starts and finishes from the middle of the W2K Track. Give yourself a day to leisurely explore both great tracks – for intermediate level riders who enjoy great scenery, they are perfect. Kinloch has a dairy, with great icecreams. Check out for a map before you go.

The club has also been revamping the tracks at Wairakei Forest Mountain Bike Park (a.k.a Craters of the Moon), Go BikeTaupo!

Hawkes Bay - largest club

Eskdale is the premier place to ride on the east of the North Island, and why the Hawke’s Bay MTB Club is by far the largest in the country with over 2000 members in June this year. There are 60 stylie tracks to ride, and they are all in a production pine forest. If you live locally it is worth joining the club – you’ll get all the trail information you need, and a forest permit. Visitors can simply buy a temporary permit for $5 from the Napier Information Centre. This amazing club has also built a smaller mountain bike park at Pukeora, just south of Waipukurau.  For more information check out Classic NZ Mountain Bike Rides, or

Whakatane - best little club

If you aren’t big, you’ve got to be smart, and that’s what the Whakatane Mountain Bike Club are. The proof is in the riding at Te Rawhiti MTB Park. It’s a fun area because the tracks have been well designed and built, and by only a few dedicated people. If you’re heading to the Bay of Plenty for a holiday, then make sure you pop into the Whakatane Information Centre to buy a forest permit and a map for $5. Then head for the hills.

Glenbervie Forest – a club of battlers

They don’t have it easy in Whangarei, but despite their council having virtually no interest in mountain biking, locals in the far north have made steady progress in Glenbervie Forest, 10 km northeast of town. Lots has changed in the last few years and there is now a proper carpark and several sign posted tracks. Start from Maruata Road, off Ngunguru Road, and ride with the Parahaki MTB Club if you get the chance. The track network is a little complicated, and local knowledge helps a lot. Otherwise, print off this map ( and take a packed lunch (there is a huge fruit and vege shop at the turn off to the carpark).

Wellington - the most clubs

Long gone are the days when all the track building in the capital city centred around  Makara Peak. There are now ten clubs – formal and informal – working on as many projects in the hills around the Wellington Region. It doesn’t matter where you are – Kelburn, Cannons Creek or Khandallah – there will be a mountain bike track close by. And almost every month a new track is completed! The latest is a family friendly loop around the wetland at Wainuiomata Mountain Bike Park, which is now an excellent area for riders of all abilities.

To check out the very latest offerings pick up a copy of the Kennett Brothers’ guide book ‘Wellington Mountain Bike Rides’, in your any Wellington bike shop. 

Golden Bay - the greenest club

Project Rameka is New Zealand’s first carbon sink mountain bike park! Situated at the bottom of the famous Rameka Track, between Abel Tasman National Park and Takaka township, a block of marginal farmland has been bought specifically to soak up Co2, but its location lends itself perfectly to mountain bike trails. So a club was formed last year, and will be opening the first trail – Great Expectations – in November this year. The 3 km track serves a dual use: as well as mountain biking, it will be used to access the land for pest control (possums and pigs) and tree planting. Great Expectations is an easy track, accessible to all riders. In December, works starts on The Odyssey, an extreme technical challenge for expert level riders. For more about the ‘whys’ and ‘wheres’, simply google Project Rameka

Kaiteriteri – the fastest club

The speed of this club is staggering! It’s hard to believe that the Kaiteriteri Mountain Bike Park Society was only formed this year, yet they have already built four tracks. When I phoned the project manager, Guy Trainer, for this article he was thrashing around in the bush designing a fifth track that will be ready to ride this summer. There are also several existing tracks, that aren’t nearly as good as the new ones, but they help expand the network into an area worthy of spending a few hours exploring. And other club members are working on a Pump Track. Next time you head for a holiday at Kaiteriteri, forget the famous beach. The action is in the forest behind the town. The club has a good website at:

Queenstown – the most extreme club

Bungy jumping, rafting, skiing … it seems Queenstown is all about going up and down, up and down, yet it’s premier riding destination is around. Around the Lakefront Trails to Seven Mile Point, where the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club have built the best riding structures and flowing single track in the region. It’s a scenic 30-minute ride from town to The Hub - a central meeting spot surrounded by awesome tracks like Cool Runnings, Kachoong and Grin & Hollar. Check those out and you’ll be begging for more. But give yourself lots of time. There is a good week of cranking to be done around Queenstown, and yes, there’s even some down-hilling if you want to go up and down, up and down.

Invercargill – world’s southern most club

Yep, there’s not a single MTB club south of Tim’s Territory. And the best thing about Invercargill is that it knows how to keep your expectations under control. Everything is so low key, I bet you didn’t even know they had a mountain bike park. They sure do. Only 10 km west of town, at the aptly named Sandy Point. It’s an ideal place to ride during or after rain, which is most of the time, as the sand is firmer. There is only about 10 km of track, and although it doesn’t sound like much, I’ve always enjoyed a spin around the forest at Sandy Point.

For more information on these areas, and all the other great rides built by clubs, check out the guide book Classic New Zealand Mountain Bike Rides.