Press Release from Kevin Hague
The Karamea community is celebrating the news that from May next year, people will once again be able to ride the Heaphy Track.
"The Heaphy is, without a doubt, one of the greatest rides on the planet," says Kevin Hague, Green Party MP and cycling spokesperson who lives on the West Coast. Kevin is a keen mountain biker and has campaigned tirelessly and persuasively on cycling issues; in particular on changing policy to allow mountain bikes on selected tracks. The decision to permit the Heaphy Great Walk to become a Great Ride as well, is great news.
“In terms of mountain bike adventures, it's the best New Zealand has to offer, and the move will enable a whole new group of New Zealanders to experience this gem. They will fall in love with it and be inspired to take a greater interest in protecting these special places."
The decision by the New Zealand Conservation Authority will restore cycle access to the Heaphy Track on a 3-year trial basis over the winter months. It was strongly supported by cycling and tramping organisations, including the Federated Mountain Clubs, and will see 80 kilometres of challenging grade four (advanced) single track open to small groups of riders looking for a remote multi-day adventure.
"Mountain biking the Heaphy is the equivalent to walking the Milford Track. It's that significant in the biking world. The decision will add great momentum to the explosion in cycling that's already taking place around the country," said Mr Hague.
"A likely 4000+ additional visitors to the area will bring much needed winter revenue to the Conservation estate and to the local economies of Golden Bay and Karamea. Much of this will come from overseas."
Kevin Hague was one of a number who campaigned tirelessly for the re-opening of the Heaphy trail to cyclists. Cycling historian and mountain biking expert Jonathan Kennett believes the trail was first ridden in 1938 and regularly thereafter enabling cycle tourists safe and spectacular access to the West Coast. It was banned in 1996 after the gazetting of the new Kahurangi National Park.
"What a day to celebrate and be proud of! Walkers and cyclists have demonstrated that they can be happy sharing trails like the Heaphy in the past and the Queen Charlotte Walkway today. I'm confident this will be no different," said Mr Hague.