Local government in New Zealand plays a significant role in providing for recreational opportunities. The concept of citizenship is central in explaining local government involvement in this provision. The subject for this study is the politics that surround this provision using citizenship as the basis for analysis. The development of mountain biking occurred in a period of changing leisure patterns over the last two decades. Mountain biking in Dunedin provides a case study in the politics of resource allocation illustrating how local government has accommodated this change.

An understanding of politics requires the investigation of stakeholders, their preferences, and their contest with other stakeholders to achieve these preferences. The major stakeholders in this situation are the Dunedin City Council, mountain bikers, and to a lesser degree, walkers. The Dunedin City Council provides most tracks that are within riding distance of the city and its preferences are represented by policy, staff who write this policy, and the politicians that approve it. The local mountain biking club, MountainBiking Otago, which has been lobbying the DCC since 1990, represents mountain bikers. Walkers also play a role is this contest as they are the incumbent user of tracks that riders desire.

The evidence presented here reveals that mountain bikers have been unsuccessful in their lobbying approach. This is attributed to failure on behalf of the riders, the reluctance of staff and politicians at the Dunedin City Council, and the effect of major changes in the way local government functions as result of reforms since 1989.