Katikati’s mountain biking, horse riding and walking community have a much shorter commute to some epic trails now that Waitekohekohe Recreational Park is officially open.
Western Bay Mayor James Denyer cut the ribbon beside key community contributors, horse trail expert Kirstin Symes, and mountain biking lead Damon McLachlan.
Tiki Bluegum of Ngāi Tamawhariua bestowed a blessing on the site, welcoming a crowd of eager new users into the park.
Ngāi Tamawhariua have supported the project for some time, and gifted the name Waitekohekohe in 2020, acknowledging the ancestral name for this area and its relationship to spiritual waters, a sense of yearning and climbing trees and vines.
A team of locals worked with Western Bay of Plenty District Council to put in the hard yards and get Waitekohekohe set up and now they’re reaping the benefits.
Mountain biker and Katikati Recreational Park Development Group (KKRPDG) member, Damon McLachlan has been involved with the project for a couple of years now. He first visited the site in 2017 and immediately saw the reserve’s potential as a mountain bike park with varied terrain including a peak and drop down to a river valley.
Since then, Damon has been working with contractors to build the carparks and mountain bike trails so he and others can enjoy riding closer to home.
“Up until now, if you’re a mountain biker living in the Katikati area, you’d have to travel a long way to go for a ride – it’s either Waihi or over towards Tauranga to get to Summerhill and Oropi trails. So we wanted something a bit more local. And now in 15 minutes drive from Katikati you can go out and have a good ride.
“We were quite selective in who we had build the trails, Rob Metz and his excavator operator Rohan (who created trails at the renowned Redwoods) were involved early in the planning, mapping out trails, and they have now created great trails for grade two to grade four riders. They’re fast, flowy tracks with great berms that ride really well.”
And so far the feedback has been very positive, with kids and retirees trying out the tracks and leaving rave reviews.
“Everyone is very excited” says Damon.
Tiki Bluegum of Ngai Tamawhariua officiated on behalf of tangata whenua.
The horse and walking trails that now wind through the reserve are also the work of the Katikati Recreational Park Development Group (KKRPDG) with support from Council and the wider community.
Founding KKRPDG member Jacqui Knight has been with the project since its inception.
“I love walking outside and I’ve done just about every walking trail around Katikati, but walking at Waitekohekohe is different, it’s really peaceful and physically challenging.
“And that’s just how we wanted it. We worked with Council to design each trail for what we need – long walks over uneven terrain, separate horse trails, and adrenaline-filled downhill mountain biking. Now we get to enjoy it.”
What you can do at Waitekohekohe
There’s plenty on offer for mountain bikers, with five new trails graded two to four (about 1hour of riding).
Horse riders can enjoy over six kilometres of new horse trails, along with jumping and galloping tracks. Facilities also include a toilet, corrals, weather shelter and wash down station.
There are separate car parks for mountain bikes at 360 Thompsons Track and equestrian at 252 Thompsons Track.
There are also shared-use walking trails throughout the reserve and numerous swimming holes along the Waitekohekohe Stream. Dogs are welcome provided they’re under control.