Mt Hutt Bike Park’s future seeks crowd funding.
The globally renown Mt Hutt Bike park is entering its next phase in what is a more than 25-year history. The land that encompasses over 45km of mountain biking trails at the base of the Mt Hutt ski area road is up for sale by a tender process on March 2nd. A very strong community effort gaining traction to raise funds in a collective tender with the goal of protecting the trails and developing recreational resources on the land for the wider community and visitors to the area to enjoy.
A fundraising ‘Give-a-little’ page has been set up by Bike Methven who are responsible for many of the bike park’s trail construction and events. With the goal of raising $105,000 from the club, community and bike park supporters, this money will be part of a collective tender for the sale of the land. Bruce Sim, a local farmer and Lion’s Club representative, has been actively encouraging anyone interested in supporting the land purchase as a collective to retain the trails, and is coordinating the tender effort. Bike Methven is confident that the community and mountain biking sector in New Zealand will get in behind this great project.
The history of the mountain biking trails on the land has been around since the late 1980’s when the first club was set up to raise funds to build a trail. National race events were held to raise funds and purchase a trailer for shuttling bikes up and down the road. The land was owned by the University of Canterbury Students Association (UCSA) who also built the lodge on the site that remains today. Tim Johns of Methven was cutting the original trail network in the late 1990’s, with Andrew Keenan further developing a strong downhill trail network from 2005 onwards. In 2007, Bike Methven became an incorporated society with the objective of developing more family friendly trails on the land. A formal license to occupy was developed with UCSA, enabling the growing club to apply for community funding grants. At this time the Methven Rodeo association & Methven Lions club provided assistance in the cross-country trail development, along with over 30 local businesses and individuals pledging fuel money and machinery in kind. With over $40k raised the huge effort of creating the now named Swamp Donkey trail began, and support flowed from further afield. A massive amount of voluntary labor occurred to overcome the physical challenges of construction and eventually the trail was complete. Upon opening, the park’s visitation took off, drawing riders from far and wide and now also catering for families and youth wanting to get into the fastest growing sport in the world.
The earthquakes of 2010 in Canterbury created a new operating environment for UCSA, who required funds for repairs. Forced to put the land up for sale, the UCSA approached Bike Methven with a purchase proposal. The club had half the membership than it does now and lacked resources to purchase the land outright, however it approached the current owners who established a group purchase entity and then generously allowed the club to continue developing trails for the community good. The trail network was expansive and well used, with many national events being held at the venue, including the Oceania mountain bike championships in 2014.
During the last six years, trees on the land reached commercial maturity and logging of these began, destroying many of the existing trails. Whilst disappointing at the time, the club knew this was a commercial reality and other bike clubs around the country operate with the same commercial partnerships.
Permission was granted by the current owners group for the club to reinstate the damaged trails and further fundraising began. The efforts of many individuals and fantastic donations allowed the now existing network of over 45km of trails to be rebuilt, attracting thousands of riders each month from far afield.
The club and the park have regular events, focusing in many instances on getting people into the sport. Youth days, women’s skill courses and community fun events are held on a regular basis by the club, with participation increasing exponentially in recent years.
With donations to the Bike Methven’s fundraising target gaining strong momentum alongside Bruce Sim’s collective effort, it is clear that the community and friends really do wish to see this fantastic recreational resource kept for future generations to come.
For those interested in making a donation to the cause, (only realized with the successful acceptance of a tender bid), visit the Give-a-little page at: www.givealittle.co.nz/project/bikemethvenlandpurchasecollective