Mountain bikers using the Hunua Ranges are being urged to stay out of restricted areas.
The area’s popularity has seen rider numbers accessing the regional park from Otau Mountain Road and Moumoukai Hill Road in the Ness Valley increase.
But Franklin Local Board deputy chair Angela Fulljames says riders have gone into areas where access is currently restricted because of Watercare’s needs, future logging, and to control kauri dieback.
“There are staff in the ranges and most riders have been great, quickly accepting the need to ride elsewhere.
“Biking is booming and there has been a lot of council and board support for tracks in the Whitford Forest, and there are plans to create a Hunua Trail from Clevedon to Kaiaua, moves that will attract people from all around the city and beyond, creating regional facilities everyone can enjoy.
“The trail will use roads currently reserved for use by Watercare, but the route isn’t ready or safe yet.”
Deputy mayor Bill Cashmore says lot of Auckland Council financial support has gone into mountain biking and no one wants to see that progress undermined by riders straying into restricted areas, which can also be dangerous.
One rider narrowly avoided serious injury after coming round a bend at speed only to be met head-on by a Watercare vehicle.
“Access has always been restricted, and given trees will eventually be logged, pest control needs and other operational activity, there will always be times when entry needs to be managed.”
Anyone entering the area needs to be aware of kauri dieback compliance, that parks and Watercare teams are frequently in the area, and abide by any instructions given.
“Auckland Council is in the process of developing informational signage, material and a communications plan that will support a safe and positive trail experience before the Hūnua Trail opens,” Fulljames says.
Principal Ranger Southern Regional Parks Trent Taylor says the aim is for everyone to be able to enjoy access to the area safely. “We want people to enjoy the park and we are working on ways to allow more access in a managed way that ensures safety to areas that some people may have assumed they had access to.”
Information on trails in the Hunua Ranges is available here.