By Jeff Carter, Director Southstar Trails

In the early 90s when mountain biking was a slowly germinating seed around the world, Rotorua’s Fred Christensen embarked on a mission to develop trails in the Whakarewarewa Forest.

The first trail built with the help of Periodic Detention community service labour eventually became known as the Genesis Trail. Genesis being the first book of the bible, Genesis being the first trail of many. After 25 years of riding, the Genesis had become one of the least visited trails in the forest. Bikes had developed, riding styles had changed and a winding xc style trail that looped all over the block had fallen from fashion.

In early 2015 the huge trees that towered above this trail were logged and the Genesis and Exit trails were destroyed in the process. The logging of the forest allowed the opportunity for a rebirth, a blank canvas on which to redevelop new trails. The Rotorua Mountain Bike Club embarked upon a fundraising effort, and in July 2015 Southstar Trails completed four new trails.

The longest trail is the 2.1km Arepa Loop. Arepa is Te Reo Maori for the greek letter “alpha”, the first letter of the greek alphabet, the first of many. This trail is designed as a skills progression from the neighbouring wide bermy Challenge trails. The Arepa Loop is digger built, but it’s only 0.9-1m wide, and it incorporates lots of log and stump features. These match the skill progression development requiring precision steering, central balance and timing.

Next up is the Junior DH – a feature laden mini version of the famed Taniwha Downhill deeper in the forest. There’s some off cambers, log drops, jumps and an optional log ride. The club hopes that this trail can host events aimed at intermediate and high school students in the future.

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