The Te Iringa trail in the Kaimanawa Forest Park has had extensive improvements carried out, making the trail more accessible and opening it up to a wider range of mountain bikers. Bike Taupo, together with the Hawkes Bay Mountain Bike Club and Taupo Mountain Bike Club, initiated a project to clear windfall, remove excess vegetation and reinstate water control. While the Te Iringa trail is a long standing track in the Kaimanawas that has been used by trampers and hunters for years, it was previously used by only a handful of mountain bikers due to its challenging terrain, wind fallen trees and the large amount of bike carrying required. Track improvements have minimised these issues, meaning mountain bikers will spend less time carrying their bikes and more time riding. “The ride is still an adventure ride,” says Rowan Sapsford, Chair of Bike Taupo, “but the improvements we have made mean it is now more of a mountain bike trail and less of a hike and bike. We have carried out this work while still being careful to maintain the original wilderness character of the trail.” He says the ride is best attempted by advanced to expert mountain bikers wanting a true backcountry experience.
The work was carried out in two stages with the second, more remote section between the old Te Iringa hut site and the Tiki Tiki Stream requiring the trail crew to establish camps and stay in the bush. Helisika Helicopters donated two hours of flying time to get the trail crew in and out of their camps and this allowed for an extra six days of working on the trail that would otherwise have been logistically difficult.
The 38 km Te Iringa trail usually takes two days to ride, with most riders spending the night at the Oamaru Hut before returning the next day. There is the option of a one- day ride by starting at Clements Mill Road and riding to the top of Mt Te Iringa and returning.
More information about the Te Iringa Trail is available at http://www.greatlaketaupo.com/te-iringa/.