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Dunes milestone for Motu Trails

Dunes milestone for Motu Trails

The Motu Trails marks a major milestone on Sunday 8 June, with the opening of a stunning new section of coastal trail — followed by a community planting day led by Project Crimson.

Just under a kilometre of new trail is nearing completion, meandering over the dunes and crossing the upper beach at Tirohanga, 5km from Opotiki. There’s also new bridging across the Tirohanga stream.

The new trail brings together the two existing sections of Dunes Trail, creating a full 10km of spectacular off-road riding, walking and running.

“You’ll get panoramic views to East Cape, over the Tirohanga stream wetlands, and south into the hills. It’s a unique stretch of trail, crossing the beach on wooden decking,” said Dave Emslie, chair of the Motu Trails Charitable Trust (MTCT).

“This new section is certain to become an iconic piece of trail in the New Zealand Cycle Trail (NZCT) network. We are extremely grateful to tangata whenua whose support has allowed the trail to cross an area of high cultural importance,” Mr Emslie said.

“The opening marks the achievement of the original vision for the Motu Trails that was set in 2010. It’s an important day, so everyone is invited. We’d love to see locals and visitors turning out.”

Motu Trails officially opened two years ago. Since then the trails have become a leading visitor asset for the Opotiki region, and an emerging attraction for the Motu-Matawai region, which is part of the Gisborne District.

“The intention is that ultimately the Motu Trails will deliver positive economic and social benefits for the wider Eastland region. The Tirohanga project is a big step forward in itself, but it’s also very much part of a long-term regional vision,” said Mr Emslie.

In the year to April 2014, key parts of the Dunes Trail recorded up to 19,000 user counts (this includes out-and-back usage), while the one-way Pakihi Track recorded over 2900 counts.

Opotiki District Council and the Department of Conservation have led the Tirohanga project, in partnership with Whakatohea Maori Trust Board and MTCT. Danny Paruru, Iwi Development Projects Manager at the Trust Board, acknowledged Council’s Mike Houghton, who has consulted extensively with landowners and kaumatua to secure support.

Opening day will start from Wairakaia Road, off SH35. At 7am Whakatohea will lead a karakia and blessing of the new trail. Then at 8am the Motu Trails Charitable Trust will lead the trail opening.

The opening will be followed by a relaxed ride and walk along the new section of trail, giving everyone a firsthand experience of what’s on offer.

“We’ve asked people not to use the trail until after the opening in recognition of the area’s cultural and environmental significance. Looking ahead, when people use the trail, it’s important they keep to the marked trails,” said Mr Emslie.

Whakatohea has led the development of interpretation signage to share some of the history and cultural meaning of the area.

The Motu Trails governance partners are Motu Trails Charitable Trust, Whakatohea Maori Trust Board, Department of Conservation, Opotiki District Council and Gisborne District Council. The new section of trail has been made possible by funding allocated under the original New Zealand Cycle Trails investment in the Motu Trails.

The opening will be followed by a Community Planting Day (9am-midday). This will be led by the Project Crimson Trust and will see volunteers bed-in around 5000 plants on Department of Conservation land between Wairakaia Road and the wetlands.

“Cycling and restoration plantings are a great fit, improving the health of both riders and the environment,” said Project Crimson's Gordon Hosking, himself a keen mountain biker.

Other project partners in the planting day are Opotiki Council, Bay of Plenty Regional Council, Whakatohea Maori Trust Board, DoC, and MTCT. Additional sponsorship is from Fonterra and Coastlands Nursery.

While the organized timetable starts at 7am on Sunday, the project partners are hoping the event will attract people for the whole weekend.

“We’ve had a good response to invitations so far so we’re expecting a good crowd Sunday morning,” said Mike Houghton. “We hope people from outside the district will take the opportunity to ride the whole Motu Trails loop, or get a shuttle and ride the Pakihi on Saturday.

“It’s looking like a great weekend. I’ll be out there with my bike.”

TIMETABLE: SUNDAY 8 JUNE

Dunes Trail (Tirohanga Opening)

• From 6.45am arrive at Wairakaia Road, off SH35 5km east of Opotiki

• 7am Karakia and blessing of the trail, followed by tea and coffee.

• 8am Trail Opening led by Motu Trails Charitable Trust, followed by a ride along the new section of trail. Meet at Wairakaia Road.

• For updates check facebook.com/motutrails

Community Planting Day:

• 9am-midday planting.

• Midday BBQ for all involved.

/ENDS.

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