Off-Road Mountain Biking: A profile of participants, setting and preferences, by Gordan Cessford, 1995
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APPENDIX 3

Riding sites used around Wellington

The questionnaire included a map of the Wellington area (Appendix 1), upon which riders indicated places they had ridden, which five they had ridden most often, and which three were their most favourite rides. Each of these is discussed in turn. It should be noted here that some responses were not applicable here as the riders came from outside the greater Wellington area, as is shown in Table A.3.7 at the end of this appendix.

Although these results represented information which was site-specific, some indication of the setting preferences and activity patterns of riders in general was anticipated from reference to the specific characteristics of the more prominent rides. Site descriptions are included in Section A3.4 of this Appendix.

A3.1 Number of Sites Used

The first data taken from the maps was the number of sites each rider indicated they had used. These were added up and the totals were categorised for Table A.3.1.

Table A.3.1: Number of sites used for riding in the Wellington area

NUMBER OF SITES USED

(refer to questionnaire map in Appendix 1)

Total

%

(n=376)
Beginner riders

(n=43)
Moderately experienced

(n=101)
Have much experience

(n=180)
Expert/very experienced

(n=52)
1 - 10 sites
19
83
25
5
4
11 - 20 sites
24
9
52
16
9
21 - 30 sites
27
7
23
37
21
31 - 40 sites
14
0
0
23
18
41 - 50 sites
8
0
0
13
20
Over 51 sites
6
0
1
4
25

These results reinforced the self-rated experience assessments of the riders. Those riders considering themselves more experienced had clearly used more riding sites. This provided further support for the use of self-rated experience groups as the basis for the cross-section of riders used in many tables, as discussed in Section 3.2 and Appendix 5.

It would appear that the more experienced riders have familiarity with a wide range of sites and conditions, while beginners are only starting to discover new experiences. The growth in the variety of sites used would suggest a strong urge to explore new areas for riding as experience levels increase. It does not appear that riders settle for high levels of repeated use of a few key sites. However, while these results gave no indication of the frequency of site use, the relative popularity of different sites was apparent from those chosen amongst the five that riders most commonly used.

A3.2 Riding Sites Most Often Used, by Experience

Once riders had marked all the sites they had used, they were asked to specify those five they had used most often. These responses are presented in Table A.3.2. Percentage figures represent the proportion of the sample including each site in their response.

Table A.3.2. : Most Common Riding Sites by Experience Groups (Wellington residents)

MOST COMMON RIDING SITES OF MOUNTAIN BIKERS (from map data)
Beginner riders

(n=29)
Moderately experienced

(n=94)
Have much experience

(n=169)
Expert/Very experienced

(n=51)
Mt Victoria
20
31
28
25
Karapoti Gorge into Akatarawa Range
17
23
29
23
Hawkins Hill: summit and ridges to north
7
16
26
45
Hutt Valley Eastern Hills/firebreaks
0
21
28
25
Hawkins Hill: Karori Reservoir area
7
17
22
45
Belmont Regional Park: Korokoro Stream
7
14
25
19
Rimutaka Incline Track (complete)
17
25
18
4
Rimutaka Incline Track (to summit only)
27
27
14
8
Hawkins Hill to Wrights Hill
14
14
16
29
Hawkins Hill: ridges to south and coast
3
16
19
12
Belmont Regional Park: Stratton St to Belmont Trig
7
7
17
16
Cannon Point Walkway/Valley View Rd
0
10
18
10
Tinakori Hill
0
6
12
27
Belmont Regional Park: Normandale/Hill/Belmont Rds
3
10
15
2
Central Akatarawa Range
7
8
14
10
Wainuiomata firebreaks
3
10
12
4
Southern Walkway
7
13
8
8
Red Rocks/Sinclair Head Coastal Track
34
13
6
0
Mt Climie
3
4
11
10
Belmont Regional Park: Maungaraki Dam to Belmont Trig
3
7
10
6
Eastbourne/Pencarrow Head Coastal Track
20
7
6
4
Forest/Pylon roads by Reserves (Keith George/Trentham)
3
6
9
6
Maymorn to Tunnel Gully Area
3
2
6
12
Mt Kaukau tracks from Khandallah
7
8
2
14
Other (54 different sites each under 5%)

(i) Declining Site Use with Experience Increase

A number of sites were used by the highest proportion of users amongst beginners, and then generally declined in relative importance amongst more experienced riders. The main sites in this category were the Rimutaka Incline Track (to summit only); Red Rocks/Sinclair Head Coastal Track; and the Eastbourne/Pencarrow Head Coastal track. All of these are tracks which would be considered easy, with low gradients, wide open tracks capable of vehicle passage, no technical challenges, and passing through interesting scenery and natural settings. These sites are used by a wide variety of riders, including older and younger age groups, and family groups.

One site which peaked amongst moderately experienced riders, and then decreased in importance was the Rimutaka Incline Track (complete). This represents a continuation of the section leading up a gentle incline to the summit (to summit only), as noted above. The complete ride involves a long and steep downhill and a car-shuttle return if a hard return climb is to be avoided. Preference for the easier first section amongst beginners is understandable, while moderately experienced riders can complete the whole trip. However, it is not a difficult route, and more experienced riders appeared to use it less often.

(ii) Consistent Site Use with Experience Increase

Only two sites remained important to riders across all experience groups. One was Mt Victoria, which is a town belt area in central Wellington, largely forested in mixed pine and native vegetation, containing a mixture of hard packed clay and rocky single-track and 4WD type tracks, covering a range of difficulty levels and gradients, and used by a variety of riders, runners and walkers on both weekdays and weekends. Tracks either follow steep descents (ascents), or traverse the hillsides along more gently graded routes. Although it contains some easy tracks, they are more challenging than those mentioned in (i), and it is not a site commonly used in the initial stages of riding development. However, once past this stage, this site provides challenge and good learning opportunities for riders at all stages of development.

The other site was the Karapoti Gorge into the Akatarawa Range. The gorge provides a gentle climb along a retired 4WD track which is reverting to single-track. It is very scenic, surrounded by regenerating native forest, traverses a deeply incised gorge and river, has a smoothly hard packed clay and rock surface, and presents no major physical or technical difficulties. Use levels are not high, with some walkers and occasional motor-bikes representing the main other users. At the top of the gorge section, several alternative 4WD routes provide access into the extensive riding duration and challenge opportunities of the Akatarawa range. These are the features of most interest to the more experienced riders here.

Some sites were not commonly used by beginners, but were consistently more important to experienced riders. The main one of these was the Hutt Valley Eastern Hills/firebreaks area. This area comprises hard clay and rocky 4WD tracks along rolling ridgelines, and firebreaks down steep ridgeline spurs. These have extensive views, and pass through scrubland, regenerating native forest, and pine plantations. Rides here tend to be physically demanding, and include a variety of trip durations and challenges, although there are minimal single-track opportunities. There are few other users, mainly occasional runners or motorbikes. The absence of beginner interest in this area is understandable given the mainly physical challenges, and occasional very steep gradients.

(iii) Increasing Site Use with Experience Increase

As experience increased, a wider variety of sites were used. For some sites, use by beginners was minimal, but increased to higher levels amongst the more experienced riders. There were four main sites in which this occurred. Three of these related to the same general area of Hawkins Hill, although they each represented connection with a different adjacent area. These three linked areas were the Hawkins Hill summit and its ridges to the north, the Karori Reservoir area, and the Wrights Hill area. On most rides in the Hawkins Hill area, most or all of these adjacent areas are included in part.

The Hawkins Hill summit and area of ridges to the north comprises rocky and steep 4WD tracks, passing mostly through open scrubland. The tracks are often used for high speed undulating descents (or long challenging climbs), and are noted as being commonly used for race training purposes. Views are extensive over the nearby city centre and harbour. Other users include runners, walkers and occasional motorbikes. Use levels can be relatively high at weekends, and around some of the scenic lookouts or attractions in the area.

The Karori Reservoir area is an old water supply catchment for Wellington City. It comprises two distinct riding settings. The first is the perimeter 4WD track, which is hard packed clay and rock surface over steep rolling terrain along ridgelines. This track links the Hawkins Hill summit area with the Wrights Hill area, passes through mixed native and exotic forest, has good scenery and views, and is used by occasional runners, walkers and motorbikes. Riders often achieve high speeds on these wide open tracks.

The second setting includes the tracks inside the reservoir area, which have recently been designated illegal for riding. The main track here is a gently graded and relatively easy single-track passing all the way up the valley through attractive native forest. It is easily accessible from the city, and is often used by walkers and runners, particularly in the evenings and weekends. In addition, there are a number of rougher single-track paths leading off this to the perimeter. These tracks are tight and narrow, are often partially unrideable, are enclosed by vegetation, and generally have a rough surface which includes numerous tree-roots, logs and rocks. Despite their illegal status, all the tracks inside the reservoir provide riding experiences which would be attractive for experienced riders.

The Wrights Hill area completes the group of riding areas around Hawkins Hill. The characteristics of tracks here match those of the Hawkins Hill summit area, and the Karori Reservoir perimeter track. Again, most riding is on wide and rocky 4WD tracks, often including high speed downhills. Racing riders often use these for training rides due to the physical challenge and the downhill speeds.

In addition to the Hawkins Hill area described above, one other area showed a large increase in use with increased rider experience. This was Tinakori Hill which, like the tracks inside the Karori Reservoir, is largely illegal for riding. The location of the area in the town belt, near the city, and the types of track's are generally similar to those of Mt Victoria, although here the tracks comprise more narrow single-track riding. Tinakori Hiil tracks provide either steep rocky single-track descents (ascents), or traverse the hillside along gently graded single-track routes. Tracks pass through mixed native-exotic forest, with good views and scenery, particularly along the ridgeline 4WD tracks. Despite the illegal status, the characteristics of these tracks are very attractive to the more experienced riders.

Overall, these site-use results indicate that rider site preferences do change with increasing experience. Some sites, such as Mt Victoria and the Karapoti Gorge, appear to have a range of characteristics that appeal to all levels of off-road riders. For Mt Victoria, this is likely to be due to the wide variety of riding conditions, its attractive setting, and its location in a very central area. For The Karapoti Gorge, this is likely to be due not only to its attractive features as a site, but also its access role for the more extensive Akatarawa Range.

Sites popular for beginners in particular featured easy riding in attractive settings, often in places where both older and younger people, and families could all ride. Such sites would the Rimutaka Incline, the Red Rocks/Sinclair Head Coastal Track, and the Eastbourne/Pencarrow Head Coastal Track. However, it was apparent that such tracks were not of great interest to more experienced riders. Sites which appealed more to experienced riders offered greater opportunities for hard physical and technical riding, and some high speeds on downhills. Such sites include the Hawkins Hill area (excluding tracks inside the Karori Reservoir), and the Hutt Valley Eastern Hills/firebreaks. Experienced riders also appreciated tracks which offered greater technical riding on challenging single-track. These include parts of Mt Victoria, inside the Karori Reservoir, and Tinakori Hill.

Table A.3.2 lists many other sites which between them offer a similar range of opportunities ot those described above. For example, the Belmont Regional Park - Korokoro Stream area had a preference pattern like that for Karori Reservoir. The Korokoro Stream track is very similar to the main central track inside Karori Reservoir. However, the proportion of experts riders was lower than that for the Hawkins Hill and Tinakori Hill areas. This may reflect the lack of rougher single-track options of interest to more experienced riders.

The relatively lower levels of use indicated for these other sites suggests that rider preference for them was not as strong, or that they were less accessible. The areas described above emerged as the main sites used by riders of differing experience levels. They were also prominent when riders were required to indicate their three favourite sites. However, as shown in Table A.3.3, some changes in rider preferences became apparent.

A3.3 Favourite Riding Sites, by Experience

Riders indicated their favourite sites in two ways: on the questionnaire map (a), and in responses to an open-ended question (b). Results of both are presented in Tables A.3.3 and A.3.4.

(a) Indicated on the questionnaire map

Once riders had marked the five sites that they used most often, they indicated which sites, from all those used, were their favourite three. Percentages represent the proportion of the sample which included each site in their favourite three.

* Decreasing Site Preference with Experience Increase

The main site which showed a decrease from initial popularity amongst beginners to lower popularity amongst more experienced riders was the Rimutaka Incline Track. The shorter and easier section (to summit only) was very popular with inexperienced riders, but this popularity declined quickly with experience. The longer and relatively more difficult `complete' ride became more popular amongst the moderately experienced riders, but then also declined. This preference pattern reflected that already noted here for the frequency of site use (Section A3.2). It would appear that this area represents a stage in riding development for many riders, which leads them to greater use of and preference for other sites once experience is gained.

Table A.3.3: Favourite Riding Sites: Total Sample (Wellington residents, n=335)

FAVOURITE RIDING SITES OF MOUNTAIN BIKERS (from map data)
Beginner rider

(n=34)
Moderately experienced

(n=85)
Have much experience

(n=168)
Expert/very experienced

(n=48)
Karapoti Gorge into the Akatarawa Range
20
30
29
29
Mt Victoria
18
21
17
19
Hutt Valley Eastern Hills/firebreaks
0
16
20
10
Belmont Regional Park: Korokoro Stream
9
12
18
17
Hawkins Hill: Karori Reservoir area
3
8
15
31
Hawkins Hill: summit and ridges to north
9
6
15
25
Rimutaka Incline Track (complete)
20
22
11
2
Hawkins Hill: ridges to south and coast
3
12
12
8
Central Akatarawa Range
3
5
14
8
Rimutaka Incline Track (to summit only)
32
14
5
2
Catchpool/Orongorongo 5-mile track area
18
15
11
2
Cannon Point Walkway/Valley View Rd
0
7
11
6
Hawkins Hill to Wrights Hill
12
13
7
8
Mt Climie
6
5
7
10
Belmont Park: Stratton St to Belmont Trig
6
5
9
8
Tinakori Hill
0
3
6
12
Orongorongo Valley from Coast
9
9
4
2
Wainuiomata firebreaks
3
7
5
0
Other (55 different sites each under 5%)

Another site to show a decrease in popularity with increasing rider experience was the Catchpool/Orongonrongo 5-mile track area. This comprises a well constructed and maintained single-track walkway passing through attractive native forest. While undulating and climbing a little, it includes few physical or technical difficulties. It also includes a number of less developed secondary tracks branching from it, similar to the pattern described earlier for the Karori Reservoir. With these characteristics, it could be expected that this site would be highly popular. However, it is a very popular track for walkers, and apart from one day on which it is the most popular section of a longer race course, it is illegal for riding.

While the Catchpool/Orongorongo track is very attractive to ride, and is generally considered by race participants to be the best part of the one race allowed on it, riders appear to largely accept that it is not available to them. This is suggested by its low popularity rating here, and its absence from the list of riding sites most often used. Its' relatively greater popularity amongst the less experienced riders may reflect a less developed sense of appropriate riding ethics. Its very low popularity amongst expert riders suggests some development of such ethics could occur with increasing experience, in a process similar to that described for the `specialisation' concept. However, it is further away from rider homes than the other main illegal riding areas noted by riders (Karori Reservoir, Tinakori Hill), which are used more often by riders. The lack of convenience for riding in such sites may also contribute to rider acceptance of limitations to their use. It may be that riders can accept limits on more distant sites, which are in effect less accessible for them already. The effort involved in getting to these more distant sites can be directed elsewhere if alternative sites are available. However, if it is the closest site offering rider experiences which are not provided for by any other sites which may be nearby, it is unlikely that committed riders would ignore it.

* Consistent Site Preference with Experience Increase

The Karapoti Gorge and Mt Victoria were the main sites to maintain their popularity across experience groups. This reflected the relative levels of use made of them by the different riders, which was also maintained across experience groups. This suggests that these sites fulfilled the experience preferences of a wide variety of riders. Other sites were consistently popular at much lower levels, or changed in relative popularity for different riders.

* Increasing Site Preference with Experience Increase

There were three main sites which showed an increase in popularity with increasing experience. These were Belmont Regional Park- Korokoro Stream, Hawkins Hill - Karori Reservoir, and Hawkins Hill - summit and ridges to the north. These also featured in the same way for the sites most often used. They would appear to be the most favoured rides amongst the more expert riders. Their characteristics have been described in Section A4.4.2, where both challenging natural single-track riding and opportunities for speed were the two main themes of rider preferences overall.

Despite being made illegal for riding, Karori Reservoir was the single most popular area. As noted before, the Catchpool/Orongorongo 5-mile Track was at its least popular amongst these more experienced riders, despite having much the same types of riding characteristics. This suggests that these riders are more inclined to accept prohibition of the more distant sites, but not those closer to home. This is even more likely when alternative sites offering similar riding experiences are not available nearby. Some indication of this is apparent from the use of rides according to home location (Section 4.4.4) where, for example, Karori Reservoir was more often used by Wellington city residents (44%), and was a more popular site for them (25%) than it was for the more distant Hutt Valley riders (2%).

(b) From an open-ended question

After riders had stated their favourite types of riding conditions (Section 4.3) in question 12a of the questionnaire, question 12b asked that they name tracks which provided them with these types of conditions. These open-ended questions were asked prior to those requiring marking of the map. The responses presented in Table A.3.4 were similar in many ways to those representing the favourite riding sites from the questionnaire map (Table A.3.3).

While the patterns of site preference with changes in experience levels remained largely consistent with those in Table A.3.3, some notable differences did occur. Particular sites that were of greater importance here were the Central Akatarawa Range, and Belmont Regional Park (Stratton St to Belmont Trig). Both of these were more important overall, and the degree of preference with greater experience was stronger. Preference for the Karapoti Gorge into the Akatarawa Range was lower amongst the experts, possibly resulting from the greater specific naming of the Central Akatarawa Range by these expert riders (36% vs 8%). The other main difference was that Mt Victoria was generally less prominent in this table. However, added importance can be attributed to the sites named here as they were named specifically in an open-ended question.

Table A.3.4: Sites where Favourite Riding Conditions Achieved (Wellington residents, n=329)

SITES OF RIDING CONDITIONS PREFERRED BY MOUNTAIN BIKERS (open-ended responses)
Beginner riders

(n=31)
Moderately experienced

(n=84)
Have much experience

(n=164)
Expert/very experienced

(n=50)
Central Akatarawa Range
0
18
30
36
Hutt Valley Eastern Hills/firebreaks
0
17
21
20
Belmont Park: Stratton St to Belmont Trig
6
12
20
26
Karapoti Gorge into Akatarawa Range
10
19
26
8
Hawkins: summit and ridges to north
6
11
16
12
Hawkins Hill: Karori Reservoir area
0
8
11
20
Catchpool/Orongorongo 5-mile track area
13
6
12
10
Mt Victoria
6
12
10
12
Rimutaka Forest Park - Incline Track
19
17
4
2
Hawkins Hill to Wrights Hill
3
8
8
10
Belmont Regional Park: Korokoro Stream
0
5
13
4
Maymorn - Tunnel Gully
3
3
8
12
Cannon Point Walkway/Valley View Rd
6
5
7
8
Mt Climie
0
3
8
2
Wainuiomata Firebreaks
0
7
5
6
Hawkins Hill ridges to south and coast
3
3
5
8
Other Wellington Areas
13
7
9
12
Other Areas
19
11
16
8

A3.4 Most Common Riding Sites and Favourite Sites, by Home Location

This section deals with the relative degree of site use and popularity according to the general home location of riders in Wellington. It is of more particular interest to local land managers, although some general points are made which have wider interest. The actual home location by suburb are listed in Table A.3.7 at the end of this appendix. These suburbs were not used as the basis for this section , due to insufficient numbers of responses from each. The location groupings used were very generalised, based upon the Wellington City Area, the Hutt Valley Area, and the Porirua Basin Area. As is apparent from viewing the map in Appendix 1, these areas are very distinct. These clear spatial differences in home location are reflected in the relative use of sites, as is shown in Table A.3.5, where the asterix (*) shows which area each site is closest to.

The pattern apparent here from comparing the total % figures with those of the respective home areas was that the relative importance of sites was higher for riders closer to them. Only three sites appeared to be consistently used at similar levels by all riders. These were the two Rimutaka Incline rides, and the Karapoti Gorge into the Akatarawa range. Although these are marked as being closer to the Hutt Valley Area (with *), they do in fact require some travel from each area before the rides can commence.

In general, those sites prominent in the previous sections of this appendix are enhanced in their importance here. For Wellington City residents, Mt Victoria was the site most often used (49%). Also important were the sites around Hawkins Hill, including the Karori Reservoir, despite its illegal status (42%). Tinakori Hill, which was the other main illegal site in the city area, was also prominent (20%). For Hutt Valley residents, the Hutt Valley Eastern Hills/firebreaks was the site most often used (44%). Also important were tracks in the Belmont Regional Park, including the Korokoro Stream track in particular. Others prominent here were the Cannon Point walkway area and the Wainuiomata firebreaks.

Table A.3.5: Most Common Riding Sites by Wellington home area

MOST COMMON RIDING SITES OF MOUNTAIN BIKERS (from map data)
TOTAL

%
Wellington City Area

(n=168)
Hutt Valley Area

(n=137)
Porirua Basin Area

(n=38)
Mt Victoria
28
49
7
10
Karapoti Gorge into Akatarawa Range
26
23
30
24
Hawkins Hill: summit and ridges to north
25
41
9
10
Hutt Valley Eastern Hills/firebreaks
23
9
44
10
Hawkins Hill: Karori Reservoir area
23
42
2
10
Belmont Park: Korokoro Stream
20
14
32
0
Rimutaka Incline Track (complete)
18
14
23
16
Rimutaka Incline Track (to summit only)
18
17
19
18
Hawkins Hill to Wrights Hill
17
27
4
24
Hawkins Hill: ridges to south and coast
16
30
3
0
Belmont Park: Stratton St to Belmont Trig
14
6
25
3
Cannon Point Walkway/Valley View Rd
13
4
28
3
Tinakori Hill
12
20
3
5
Belmont Park: Normandale/Hill/Belmont Rds
11
2
23
10
Central Akatarawa Range
11
7
16
13
Wainuiomata firebreaks
10
2
21
10
Southern Walkway
9
17
1
3
Red Rocks/Sinclair Head Coastal Track
9
15
1
8
Mt Climie
8
3
16
3
Belmont Park: Maungaraki Dam to Belmont Trig
7
2
14
0
Eastbourne/Pencarrow Head Coastal Track
7
6
9
5
Roads by Reserves (Keith George/Trentham)
7
3
14
3
Maymorn to Tunnel Gully Area
6
5
9
0
Mt Kaukau tracks from Khandallah
6
8
1
13
Other (54 different sites each under 5%)

The sites in the table did not include all those that were locally important. Due to the low numbers of residents included in the sample, there were tracks important to Porirua Basin riders which were not prominent overall. These included The Colonial Knob Roads (37%) and Lakes (18%), Battle Hill Farm park (18%), Mt Kaukau from the North (18%), and the Plimmerton/Pukerua Bay railway road. Descriptions of those tracks not already described are included at the end of this appendix.

In general, the pattern of favourite riding sites reflected that of sites most often used. Table A.3.6 presents these favourite riding sites. The main difference apparent was that the absolute percentage figures were generally lower, suggesting that many of the favourite sites included by riders were not often well known to others. However, it does appear that for most of their riding, riders are using the sites they consider their favourites.

Again, the sites in the table did not include all sites that were locally important to the Porirua Basin riders. Of these, 25% indicated the Colonial Knob Road was a favourite, and 13% indicated the Battle Hill Farm Park. It is not clear if these preferences would change should a larger sample be taken.

Overall, there appeared to be two sites generally important for most riders, whether by experience or by home location. These were the Karapoti Gorge and the Rimutaka Incline tracks

Table A.3.6: Favourite Riding Sites: Total Sample (Wellington residents, n=335)

FAVOURITE RIDING SITES OF MOUNTAIN BIKERS (from map data)
TOTAL

%
Wellington City Area

(n=164)
Hutt Valley Area

(n=134)
Porirua Basin Area

(n=37)
Karapoti Gorge into the Akatarawa Range
29
29
30
24
Mt Victoria
18
32
4
8
Hutt Valley Eastern Hills/firebreaks
16
7
30
3
Belmont Regional Park: Korokoro Stream
15
11
24
0
Hawkins Hill: Karori Reservoir
14
25
2
11
Hawkins Hill: summit and ridges to north
14
21
5
11
Rimutaka Incline Track (complete)
13
11
17
11
Hawkins Hill: ridges to south and coast
11
20
2
0
Central Akatarawa Range
10
5
14
13
Rimutaka Incline Track (to summit only)
10
13
7
8
Catchpool/Orongorongo 5-mile track area
10
10
10
11
Cannon Point Walkway/Valley View Rd
8
4
16
0
Hawkins Hill to Wrights Hill
8
11
5
13
Mt Climie
7
4
11
3
Belmont Regional Park: Stratton St to Belmont Trig
7
2
16
0
Tinakori Hill
7
9
2
13
Orongorongo Valley from Coast
6
3
6
16
Wainuiomata firebreaks
5
3
7
8
Other (55 different sites each under 5%)

A3.4 Site Descriptions

This section provides site descriptions of the tracks mentioned in this appendix. This was done to aid the assessment of setting characteristics preferred by different riders. The tracks described are listed in Table A.3.5, which presents the sites used most often by riders. They are listed in order of importance. Some tracks mentioned in the text but not listed in the table are also described. Reference to the map in Appendix 1 will show where these rides are located.

1. Mt Victoria

This is a town belt area located in central Wellington city. It is mainly forested in mixed pine and native vegetation. It contains a mixture of hard packed clay and rocky single-track and 4WD-type tracks, covering a range of difficulty levels and gradients, and used by a variety of riders, runners and walkers on both weekdays and weekends. These often include older and younger walkers, and family groups. Tracks either follow steep descents (ascents), or traverse the hillsides along more gently graded routes. Ride durations are up to 2 hours. There are panoramic city and harbour views.

2. Karapoti Gorge into the Akatarawa Range

Located 30-40 minutes drive from central Wellington, the 8km gorge provides a gentle climb along a retired 4WD track which is reverting to single-track. It is very scenic, surrounded by regenerating native forest, traverses a deeply incised gorge and river, has a smoothly hard packed clay and rock surface, and presents no major physical or technical difficulties. Use levels are not high, with some walkers and occasional motorbikes. At the top of the gorge section, several alternative 4WD routes provide access to the extensive riding opportunities in the Akatarawa range. This represents the source of most interest to the more experienced riders. This is the location of the `Karapoti Classic' race, which was the basis for the survey sample. Ride durations range from 1 hour up to full day if `Central Akatarawa' rides are included (see 15).

3. Hawkins Hill - summit and ridges to the north

Hawkins Hill is a large ridge bordering the south-western suburbs of Wellington. It includes ridges and spurs to the south and north, the latter of which encompass Karori Reservoir (see 5), and end at Wrights Hill (see 9). The area around the summit and northern ridges comprises rocky and steep 4WD tracks, passing mostly through open scrubland. The tracks are often used for high speed undulating descents (or long challenging climbs), and are commonly used for race training. Views are extensive, overlooking the city and harbour, and the surrounding ranges and coastlines. Other users include runners, walkers and occasional motorbikes. Use levels can be relatively high at weekends, particularly around some of the scenic lookouts and other public attractions in the area.

4. Hutt Valley Eastern Hills/firebreaks

This area is located along the eastern side of the Hutt Valley. It comprises hard clay and rocky 4WD tracks along rolling ridgelines, and often very steep firebreaks down ridgeline spurs. These have extensive views, and pass through scrubland, regenerating native forest, and pine plantations. Rides here tend to be physically demanding, and include a variety of trip durations and challenges, although there are minimal single-track opportunities. There are few other users, mainly occasional runners or motorbikes. Ride durations range from 1 to 4 hours. This area merges into that called the `Wainuiomata firebreaks' (see 16).

5. Hawkins Hill - Karori Reservoir

This is an old water supply catchment area for Wellington City. It comprises two distinct riding settings. The first is the perimeter 4WD track, which on one side borders the Hawkins Hill summit area (see 3), and on the other leads to the Wrights Hill area (see 9). This boundary 4WD track comprises a hard packed clay and rock surface over steep rolling terrain along ridgelines, passes through mixed native and exotic forest, has good scenery and views, and is used by occasional runners, walkers and motorbikes. Riders often achieve high speeds on these wide open tracks. Rough single-tracks lead into the reservoir itself, along with one well-formed track at the head of the reservoir valley. Rides in the area range from 1-3 hours.

The second setting comprises the tracks inside the reservoir area, which have recently been designated illegal for riding. The main track here is a gently graded rocky single-track passing all the way up the valley through attractive native forest. This track emerges into the city suburbs and is often used by walkers and runners, particularly in the evenings and weekends. In addition there are a number of rougher single-track paths leading off to the perimeter from this central track. These tracks are tight and narrow, are often partially unrideable, are enclosed by vegetation, and generally have a rough surface which includes numerous tree-roots, logs and rocks. Despite their illegal status, all the tracks inside the reservoir are attractive settings for the more experienced riders.

6. Belmont Regional Park - Korokoro Stream

This comprises a hard packed single-track route through scrublands and native forest. It has gentle gradients, and no major technical or physical difficulties. There are few rougher single-track paths leading from this track. It is often ridden by riders coming out of longer and more difficult rides in the Belmont Regional Park. Ride durations, if not part of longer rides, are between 1-2 hours.

7. Rimutaka Incline Track (complete)

This follows an old railway line (including tunnels) from the upper Hutt Valley through the intervening range to the parallel Wairarapa Valley. It is a mixture of gravel road and smooth 4WD road, with the latter reverting to easy single-track in places. The route passes through pine forest and regenerating scrublands. Gradients are very gentle on the first part of the ride up to the summit (see 8), but these steepen in a sustained descent into the Wairarapa. This descent is clear and open, although rougher than is comfortable due to old sleeper ruts across the track. Despite this, high speed descents are possible. A return trip involving a major climb back can only be avoided by use of a car-shuttle, or riding to the nearest town and returning by train. Some areas of rougher single-track and 4WD can be entered from this route. Return trip durations range between 2-5 hours. The area receives high use from walkers and family groups of riders, although many only go to the summit (see 8).

8. Rimutaka Incline Track (to summit only)

This includes the easy section of the route above (see 7). The route is almost flat, and passes mainly through pine forest. Most use of the route is concentrated here. Return trip durations range between 1-3 hours.

9. Hawkins Hill - Wrights Hill

This area shares most of the characteristics of the Hawkins Hill summit area (see 3) and the Karori Reservoir perimeter track (see 5). It represents the northern end of the network of tracks surrounding Hawkins Hill. A steep sealed road descends in to the Wellington western hill suburbs.

10. Hawkins Hill - ridges to the south and coast

This area comprises the sealed and 4WD ridgeline road south from the Hawkins Hill summit, and the rough 4WD tracks which lead off it. These rough and rocky 4WD tracks descend undulating ridgelines and spurs down either side of the main ridge, leading back to the city or down to the coast. Some sections are very steep and rough. Most riders descend these routes. There are few other users, mainly motorbikes and occasional walkers. The tracks pass through farmland, but the other farmtracks in the area are not generally accessible. There are expensive views over the city, coastline, and ocean, with the South Island also visible.

11. Belmont Regional Park - Stratton St to Belmont Trig

This area is located in the western hills above the lower Hutt Valley. The route climbs a steep 4WD track through farmland to the Belmont Trig summit. Views are extensive here. From the trig, the second part of the route descends to the Maungaraki Dam area in the valley (see 20). It involves a very steep and challenging descent on a rough and technical single-track. The surface is mostly hard-packed clay, which increases in difficulty with wet conditions. In the valley below, it joins an attractive single-track path through native forest beside the stream. From here it travels down-valley until joining the Korokoro Stream track (see 6).

12. Cannon Point Walkway/Valley View Rd

This area, located in the western hills above the upper Hutt Valley, comprises more than just a walkway. It gives access to the Central Akatarawa Range (see 15) by a steep but well graded gravel road up from the main valley floor. On reaching the top of the hill, it gives access to a network of forestry roads (e.g., Valley View Rd) and some single-track riding through pine forest. Routes can be linked with other areas such as the Karapoti Gorge (see 2) for longer round-trips. Trip durations range from 1 to 3 hours. These rides are not high in technical difficulty, but can be physically strenuous.

13. Tinakori Hill

Riding on the tracks inside this area is illegal, but it is attractive to many riders on weekdays when fewer other users are present (walkers, runners). The area is located in the town belt near the city centre, and the types of tracks within are generally similar to those of the Mt Victoria site (see 1), although they generally involve more narrow single-track riding. These tracks are either steep rocky single-track descents (ascents), or they traverse the hillside along gently graded single-track routes. Tracks pass through mixed native and exotic forest, with good views and scenery along the ridgeline 4WD tracks. Despite their illegal status, the characteristics of these tracks are attractive to the more experienced riders.

14. Belmont Regional Park - Normandale, Hill and Belmont Rds

This area comprises a mixture of moderately steep gravel road and 4WD tracks which link these access points. These pass through farmland and offer good views. Ride durations range between 1-3 hours.

15. Central Akatarawa Range

This large area is located northwest of Wellington, between the upper Hutt Valley and the west coast of the district. It contains a network of steep 4WD tracks and forestry logging roads, some of which are overgrown and reverting to single-track. These pass through regenerating native forest and some exotic forest areas. The area is remote and very scenic. Other users are mainly 4WD vehicles and motorbikes. Walkers are occasionally encountered, as are logging trucks where logging is taking place. Ride durations here are long, ranging from 3 hours to full day trips. Overnight trips have been done, some resulting from riders getting lost. Many other riding areas used for shorter rides are linked to this area (see 2 and 12).

16. Wainuiomata Firebreaks

This area joins the ridgeline firebreaks and 4WD tracks to the east of the Hutt Valley (see 4). These tracks comprise steep undulating firebreaks along ridgelines, and steeper firebreaks and single-track routes branching off these to valley floors. These have hard-packed clay and rocky surfaces, which become rougher and more technical through the native forest areas flanking the ridges. The area is very scenic. Other users are mainly motorbikes and occasional runners and walkers. Trip durations are between 1-3 hours. These tracks can be physically strenuous, can involve steep technical descent, and can allow very high speeds to be reached.

17. Southern Walkway

This connects several town belt areas in to one route from central Wellington to the south coast (including Mt Victoria). Connections involve riding on sections of city streets, but the town belt areas themselves include gravel roads and hard-packed clay single-track riding. These tracks are very steep and technical in some places, with some unrideable sections of steps. The tracks pass through a mixture of pine and native forest, and regenerating scrublands. There are good views of the city throughout, and much variety of riding. Other users are walkers and runners, particularly in weekends. These often include younger and older people, and family groups. Ride durations are between 1-3 hours.

18. Red Rocks/Sinclair Head Coastal Track

This is a 4WD vehicle track along the south-west coast of Wellington city. It is flat and offers minimal technical or physical challenge, apart from being over coarse stones for much of the way. It has interesting coastal scenery, and passes by a seal colony which is a major seasonal attraction. It is popular for walkers of all ages, and some coastal fishing and 4WD vehicle use also occurs. It is used by riders of all ages, and by family groups, although the more experienced riders generally use it as an exit from rides in the Hawkins Hill area (see 10).

19. Mt Climie

This area includes a long and steep gravel road ascent through native forest to a mountain-top transmitter site. This is also used as a launch-site by hang-gliders. It has extensive views when clear of cloud. The climb is a physical and technical challenge, taking over an hour. The descent is challenging due to the high speeds possible, but the required technical control to do so. It has been used for downhill time trials for this reason. Walkers, motorbikes and occasional vehicles also use the road. Ride durations are between 1-3 hours return. This route passes through the Tunnel Gully area (see 23).

20. Belmont Regional Park - Belmont Trig to Maungaraki Dam

This represents continuation of the ride from Stratton St to Belmont Trig (see 11). It comprises a steep and technical downhill on hard-packed clay single-track. It passes from farmland and scrubland near the top, through to attractive native forest in the valley, where it eventually joins the Korokoro Stream track (see 6). Ride duration is between 2-4 hours. Walkers and runners are sometime present.

21. Eastbourne/Pencarrow Head Coastal Track

This is a gravel road along the south-east coast of Wellington harbour. It usually requires a drive of 30-40 minutes from the central city to reach the start. It is flat and offers no physical or technical challenge. It includes interesting coastal scenery, with lighthouses being a common public attraction. During summer and weekends it is very popular with walkers and riders of all ages, including families. Many also engage in picnics and coastal fishing. Some riders use it to access Baring Head, which offers the best rock-climbing in the Wellington area. The road continues around the coast to the Wairarapa Valley, but few ride the long distance this represents.

22. Roads by the Keith George and Trentham Scenic Reserves

These comprise steep gravel logging roads and very steep clay firebreaks. They are located in the hills above these reserves on the western flanks of the upper Hutt Valley. They pass through pine forest on rides that range between 1-2 hours. They do not generally receive a high level of recreational use.

23. Tunnel Gully Area

This area is located at the bottom of the Mt Climie road (see 19) in the upper Hutt Valley. It comprises a mixture of gravel roads, 4WD tracks and single-tracks on muddy clay surfaces. The terrain is steep or very steep, through a mixture of pine, native forest and scrublands. Like the nearby Rimutaka incline (see 7), some of the gravel road passes along old railway line, including the tunnels. Ride duration ranges between 1-2 hours. Other users include walkers, runners, motorbikes and hang-glider vehicles.

24. Mt Kaukau tracks to Khandallah

This area is located above the western hill suburbs of Wellington. The tracks comprise a mixture of 4WD tracks and single-track through farmland and native forest. the single-track sections often include many steps. Views are extensive across the city and harbour. Other users include walkers and runners.

Others - Colonial Knob is a 4WD track to a hilltop in the Porirua area. Riders must return the same way, and cannot use the single-track paths that are also there.

- Battle Hill Farm Forest Park contains two loop rides on gravel and 4WD tracks inland from Porirua harbour. More extensive rides are possible for experienced riders with maps.

- Plimmerton/Pukerua Bay coastal route near Porirua is an 18km mainly 4WD circuit around the coast from Plimmerton to Pukerua Bay, and return alongside the railway.

- Mt Kaukau from the north involves riding up the Old Coach Road from Johnsonville, and travelling along the 4WD farm tracks until the sealed road to the summit is met.

Table A.3.7: Home Locations of Riders in the Sample (n = 503)

HOME LOCATION OF RIDERS
%
IMPORTANT SITES IN THIS AREA
Wellington Central (Thorndon-Haitaitai-Brooklyn)
14
Mt Victoria, Tinakori Hill, Southern Walkway, Hawkins Hill summit area
Wellington East (Kilbirnie-Lyall Bay-Seatoun)
5
Mt Victoria, Southern Walkway
Wellington West/Hills (Karori-Khandallah)
13
Hawkins Hill - Karori Reservoir, Hawkins Hill - Wrights Hill, Tinakori Hill, Mt Kaukau
Wellington South (Newtown-Island Bay)
7
Mt Victoria, Southern Walkway, Hawkins Hill summit area, Red Rocks/Sinclair Head Coastal Track
TOTAL - Wellington City Area
39
Johnsonville
4
Mt Kaukau from the north/Old Coach Road
Tawa
2
Colonial Knob Road and lakes
Porirua (Porirua-Pukerua Bay)
3
Battle Hill Farm Forest Park, Plimmerton to Pukerua Bay coastal route
TOTAL - Porirua Basin Area
9
Petone/Hutt Western Hills
4
Belmont Regional Park tracks, Eastern Hutt Hills/firebreaks, Wainuiomata firebreaks, Korokoro Stream
Lower Hutt City
14
Eastern Hutt Hills/firebreaks, Belmont Regional Park tracks,
Upper Hutt City
11
Cannon Point Walkway/Valley View Rd area, Karapoti Gorge, Tunnel Gully/Mt Climie area, Rimutaka Incline
Wainuiomata
2
Wainuiomata firebreaks, Eastern Hutt Hills/firebreaks
TOTAL - Hutt Valley Area
31
Wairarapa
1
Kapiti Coast
3
Mangaone Track, Maungakotukutuku Valley
Palmerston North
2
Other North Island
13
Tongariro Forest Crossing
Other (South Island/Overseas)
4
TOTAL - Outside Wellington
23


Appendices: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6 | 7 | 8 | 9
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