Some said it would never happen. But there we all were, standing in the shade of the tall pines in the Cashmere Forest, trying to keep out of the harsh December sun which beat down into the home of the new Adventure Park.
A select few gathered for the official opening, staff members, dignitaries, community members, and local business people, eagerly awaiting the official ribbon cutting which marked the exact moment when Christchurch’s biking dreams, became a reality.
The site was blessed by local Iwi, and the Mayor of Christchurch declared the park open. Following this was a quick train down the final section of the track by a group of staff and local riders, those with a keen eye would have spotted Sam Blenkinsop, Rupert Chapman, Tyler Brooker and Nils Heiniger amongst many other local heroes.
With all the serious business finished, it was time to check out what this park was about. The congregation headed up to the bar and café (where Cassels & Son is on tap) and with a cold pint in hand everyone gravitated to the outdoor deck. Warmly lit by the late afternoon sun, it was then that everyone realised just how spot on they had been when planning this.
From this vantage point you could see everything. The brand new 4-seater chair running up the valley, the show booters and the convergence of all the trails, the rental shop, the pump track and the zipline. A lot of us ended up staying a lot longer than we planned, and had all begun to stake claims to certain chairs and tables where we decided we’d spend the rest of the summer.
But what about the riding? Well the Adventure Park opened to limited selections of Stoke Pass holders each day for the next five days, in a controlled soft opening. As most people would have seen there were some crazy long lines, as no-one was turning up late to this party. The long lines were only testament to how excited the biking community was. Everyone was pumped to get their first ride on the lift, and now there are bike park edits galore circulating the internet as everyone wants to show off their slice of riding paradise.
The trails have packed in well and are running fast, the baking sun at the moment is drying everything out, and if I were to offer one word of advice it would be ‘goggles’. There is something for everyone from the A-Line-esque jump trail ‘Airtearoa’ and the refreshed versions of existing trails like ‘moose knuckle’ through to hand built blue flow trails, and green trails with no more than a 3% gradient aimed at the beginner rider. The chairlift ride is quick, and the trails are well marked and fun straight out of the box.
Wednesday December 21st is the official ‘open to the public’ date. Now we wait patiently to see how the trails hold up, and how the riders take to the park. Gradually more tracks are being opened as they are finished, and more activities are being planned. This park is a world-first, so there is no comparisons or benchmarks here.
This is just the start, and a promising one at that. There is so much opportunity nestled amongst the 900 acres of playground here in Christchurch. With a lift that can take 1200 riders per hour, and a crazy target of being open 365 days a year, the best is definitely still to come.