MTB trail proposed for Abel Tasman National Park

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Local businesses are hopeful that a cycle path can be created in Abel Tasman National Park, which could open a cycle network from Picton to the west coast.

Abel Tasman.com owner Brendan Alborn was one of the tour operators and companies offering a ‘family’ mountain bike trail through the national park, renowned for its golden sandy beaches and coastal hiking trail.

The current rules for activities in the park – set out in the park’s management plan – only allowed mountain biking in two areas during the winter, he said.

But the plan was due to be reviewed by the Department of Conservation (DOC) three years ago.

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MINISTRY OF CONSERVATION

The Abel Tasman Coast Track is one of the New Zealand Department of Conservation’s great hikes.

Last year, Alborn and others drew up a plan for a cycle path that would be partly parallel to the park’s indoor walking track “in preparation for this. [the park] open up to mountain biking once the plan has been reviewed ”.

The pre-Covid-19 efforts to attract more visitors to the park in winter had not worked, and a bike path could “move the dial for the local economy,” he said.

“Have mountain biking in the Abel Tasman when you can pair it with the Old Ghost Road and the Heaphy [Track]… it could be the most epic multi-day cycling tour, in New Zealand certainly, and potentially in the world.

Signals from Conservation Minister Kiri Allan that the rules governing the country’s 13 national parks could be simplified were grounds for optimism that a cycle path running the length of the park could occur, he said. declared.

A bike path available to local businesses for Abel Tasman National Park, between coastal and inland walking trails.

Provided

A bike path available to local businesses for Abel Tasman National Park, between coastal and inland walking trails.

Another option was to open the coastal track to bicycles during the winter months, when few people rode it, he said.

But “the dream” would be to have a new track between the coastal and inland trails, which could be used all year round, he said.

Connecting a bike path to the Tasman Great Taste Trail in Kaiteriteri could complement a bike path from Nelson to Golden Bay, he said.

Wilsons chief executive Abel Tasman, Darryl Wilson, said Picton would also be connected by the Maungatapu cycle path east of Nelson.

“It is very important that we do not have all of our eggs in one basket as an industry around the coastal fringe and sea walking / kayaking on the Abel Tasman when mountain biking is actually the new golf for most middle-aged people. “

While some of the mountain biking in the area was “a bit hardcore,” a cycle route through the national park was something a biking novice could do with his family, he said.

The Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) have said that this plan in 2020, for a cycle path along part of the indoor walking track in Abel Tasman National Park, was poorly thought out.

Provided

The Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) have said that this plan in 2020, for a cycle path along part of the indoor walking track in Abel Tasman National Park, was poorly thought out.

The Abel Tasman Birdsong Trust was also interested in the access that a new track could provide to some of the interior areas of the park for their predator control, said Wilson, administrator of the organization.

DOC North South Island operations director Roy Grose said the department was reviewing its management planning system, to try to introduce “more efficient and agile processes and documents.”

But any additional ATV proposals in Abel Tasman National Park should be considered as part of a review of the park’s management plan, with public input, and a review was not scheduled at this point.

Other mountain biking opportunities on public protected lands in the Nelson-Tasman area, including the Canaan Downs Scenic Reserve. In Kahurangi National Park, mountain biking was allowed on the Heaphy Trail from May to November, and year-round on the Flora Saddle trails at Barron Flat and Kill Devil, he said.

Jan Finlayson, president of the Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC), which represent tramping clubs among other things, said Abel Tasman National Park is not a wasteland waiting to be used by humans.

“It’s protection has been, and is, hard earned.”

Nature was “king” under the National Parks Act of 1980, and human enjoyment depended on it, she said. All conservation laws “embodied our collective intention to do what is inherently right”.

Should the Abel Tasman Coastal Track be open to mountain bikers during the quieter winter months?

Liz Carlson / Stuff

Should the Abel Tasman Coastal Track be open to mountain bikers during the quieter winter months?

FMC adopted mountain biking in “appropriate places”, but opposed last year’s cycle path proposal, not only because it was not in line with the current plan, but because it “would hurt. to the remote value of the park “.

A trail between coastal and inland walking trails would also be an incursion into remote areas, adopted in the park’s statutory plans more than three decades ago, she said.

The CMF has said it will accept a cycle path that runs along the western edges of the park.

FMC wanted to see people employed, but it does not follow “that these jobs should depend on exploiting nature,” Finlayson said.


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