Overlooking the Wellington suburb of Karori is Makara Peak and surrounding it is a mountain bike park of international reputation. Since 1998 the Makara Peak Bike Park has been developed by a group of enthusiastic supporters building tracks, planting native trees and eradicating destructive pests.
In the past eleven years volunteers have built 40 kilometres of track, in a variety of degrees of difficulty that both encourage beginners and challenge specialists. The volunteers have dug, shifted and compacted soil, chipped out rock, cut back branches, built retaining walls and small bridges and dug drainage channels. All tracks have been built with the approval of the Wellington City Council and in compliance with the Resource Management Act. They have been designed and built with permanence and future maintenance in mind, all the time taking care to ensure minimal damage to the surrounding native bush.
A key objective of the Supporters group is to assist in the reforestation of the bush, by planting a native tree for every metre of track developed. To date over 25,000 trees have been planted and two prestigious conservation awards received. There has also been considerable effort to control possums and other pests which continue to destroy newly planted trees and the existing native bush. As a public park owned by the Wellington City Council it is used regularly by thousands of mountain bike riders and walkers. From WCC surveys it is estimated that there are around 100,000 visits each year and a recent survey showed that 11% of Wellingtonians had used the Park at least once in the past 12 months.
The Supporters group is made up of local residents, mountain bikers and conservationists – ordinary people who enjoy the outdoors and want to give something back to their environment. Between 12 and 25 enthusiastic volunteers attend fortnightly work parties developing and maintaining it – more are welcome!
Since the beginning of the project when the land was just a rundown gorse-covered farm, a key objective of the Supporters has been to encourage a greater number of young and novice riders to venture into the Park to enjoy its thrills and scenic views whilst gaining fitness and mountain biking skills. For this the Park received the 2003 Wellington City Community Award for Sport and Leisure. There would be few recreational facilities which have been developed mainly through volunteer efforts that would come close to having the level of popularity in Wellington that Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park has.