Lying just a 20-minute drive from Rotorua, the 14.5km Western Okataina Track is a Grade 3 mountain-bike ride, with a side-trail to a panoramic viewpoint overlooking the city and Mt Tarawera.
However, until recently the trail has been under-used; mainly because parts were poorly drained, with two muddy fords, badly rutted, or simply un-rideable. Other sections had patches of gorse or blackberry.
The Rotorua Trails Trust (RTT), with a grant from the BCT, has been undertaking excellent work on the track to fix these issues, and also to make it a more enjoyable ride.
Stage 1 was to tackle 7km, beginning from the eastern end of the trail, at the Outdoor Education Camp. Culvert pipes were installed in the two fords, and also under the exisiting bridge, to aid drainage.
Two diggers, operated by the contractor Southstar, re-garded the un-rideable sections of the trial and eliminated the huge ruts.
Stage 2 was to complete the western end of the trail. Hay bales were purchased for erosion control, and to help grass seed germinate on the trail edges. RTT members used E-bikes with trailers to move the bales.
Working with DOC, the RTT also plans to undertake some weed control and plant natives alongside the trail later in 2021.
Many thanks to the Rotorua Trails Trust for their great efforts. Happy riding!