The Trough Monitor: $490,000 for bike park in Tourism Minister’s home patch

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones isn’t the only one to be bringing good cheer to those deemed worthy of benefiting from the Provincial Growth Fund.

The Point of Order Trough Monitor drew attention to Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis dipping into the fund to bring good news to his Te Tai Tokerau patch yesterday.

The announcement came in a press statement headed PGF invests in final push to complete Waitangi Mountain Bike Park,

The Government seems keen to get us pedalling.   Just a few days earlier Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter announced the NZ Transport Agency will provide $23 million over the next three years to expand the Bikes in Schools and cycle skills education to get more Kiwi kids on their bikes.

Davis announced a more modest sum: 

The Government is backing a high-arenaline tourism project in Northland by investing $490,000 from the Provincial Growth Fund towards the final stage of the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park, Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis announced today.

Funding for the $2.1 million project has come from a variety of sources and it is anticipated that the project could create over 160 jobs after 10 years. When completed, the community-owned park will offer mountain bikers 72 kilometres of trails catering to all abilities, and is expected to attract 15,000 new visitors to the region after three years.

“This will be a premium tourist attraction for the Bay of Islands that will create jobs in the long term and support the success of surrounding businesses,” Kelvin Davis said.

“Cycle tourism is a growing part of the market. The Waitangi Mountain Bike Park will complement Northland’s other major cycling attraction – Pou Herenga Tai Far North Cycle Way – and the long term plan is to connect the two attractions.”

Davis cited the 2015 Northland Economic Action Plan, which identified tourism as a key opportunity to improve economic outcomes across the region and makes specific reference to developing higher quality and culturally enriching tourism offerings.

“This project has had buy-in from across the local community with support from the Waitangi National Trust, the local community board, local councils, and Northland locals.

“On top of generous donations to support the park, more than 200 people have written letters in support and 163 locals have registered as volunteers to carry out maintenance.  It’s great that the Government is able to support this project too,” Kelvin Davis said.

It’s great to see Davis mention those “generous donations”.

If we have properly interpreted advice on the Waitangi Mountain Bike Park website, cyclists would be in bad odour if they didn’t cough up.

Provision is made for an annual registration:

Every user is encouraged to register to ride by making a minimum annual donation of $40 per adult, $25 per child (14 years and under). This money will go towards trail maintenance and is vital for the sustainability of the Park.     

Donors will receive a map and two coloured plastic tags. One tag is for your bike – very uncool to be seen without one – and a smaller one for your key ring to be flashed around town.    

Many businesses in the Bay of Islands have volunteered incentives to encourage bike riders to donate in this way. The key tag is their way of knowing who you are. The tag colour changes each year, we will send you a reminder when your tag is about to expire.

But the park managers appreciate the need for a daily registration:

We have had a number of requests from visitors who are keen to donate, but are only here for a day, or who can only ride for one day – and are not keen for the annual registration. So, in response to this we are have introduced a ‘one day’ $10 donation option for visitors.

As a ‘one day donors’ you are provided with a luggage tag style sticker with the days date on it, which once removed from your bike, can be used similarly to the annual tags – they can be used for the great incentives offered around town – but only for that one day.  So remember to remove it from your bike after your ride.

This option also comes with a free map.

A year after its official opening in October 2016 the mountain bike park had attracted 16,000 riders and created at least 14 jobs.

It opened with an initial 20km of trails in the hills behind Waitangi.  A year later this had expanded to 40km, with trails catering to children up to advanced riders.

The bike park is a mostly volunteer-run project by community group Focus Paihia.

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