Opinion: Lyttelton’s moutain biking paradise

Greg Jack is president of the Lyttelton Mountain Bike Club. He writes about how Lyttelton is tapping into the growing popularity of mountain biking through the Urumau Reserve trail network

Photo: Mark Bridgwater Photography

With stunning views overlooking Lyttelton to the west and the expanse of the harbour to the east, the conveniently located Urumau Recreation Reserve now sports 4km of mountain biking and walking trails.

Greg Jack

The addition of Christchurch Adventure Park has helped to establish the city as one of the best biking locations in the country, if not the world, and will continue to encourage more locals to get out on a bike.

Growing up I was lucky enough to have a nearby forest where I could play and explore, so it’s great to see kids able to get out riding and enjoying the great outdoors, right close to home.

With mountain biking booming as a sport, regions such as Rotorua, Nelson and Queenstown are actively being developed as great biking destinations to attract local, domestic and international visitors.

Biking is good for business and Lyttelton shops are already benefitting from bikers from the ‘other side’ visiting Urumau Reserve.

While there are many places you can walk around Lyttelton, Urumau Reserve is the only place you can go mountain biking. This factor has led the Lyttelton Mountain Bike Club, Lyttelton Reserve Management Committee, city council and Lyttelton Port Company to work together over the past eight years to create the current trail network.

The trails through the pine forest have been hand-dug by bikers at an average rate of 2m/h, but are now also being enjoyed by walkers and runners.

The generally steep terrain means the trails are suitable for intermediate or advanced riders. They vary from smooth, bermed trails to tight, twisty, single tracks and steeper, swooping, technical trails. There’s something for everyone, a part from beginners, which is something I’d love to see changed.

There’s great potential to add an easier ‘XC’ trail on the eastern side of the reserve and the proposed development plan supports the idea of joining the LPC track to the Urumau traverse track, forming a wide, low-angle, shared use loop track.

There is already much excitement for such a family-friendly loop track, but strong community support and funding are still needed for these initiatives to be realised.

If you haven’t already, I’d encourage you to check out the trails and take in the stunning views, whether by bike or on foot. Signs point the way from the end of Foster Tce, but the best trail map and information is available via the Trailforks website or smartphone app.

If you’re a local rider, I’d encourage you to join the Lyttelton Mountain Bike Club (www.lytteltonmtb.club). If you want to throw your weight behind the loop track concept, or just ‘have your say’ on the Urumau Reserve Development Plan, you can do so on the city council website.

But be quick as submissions close on September 4 (https://www.ccc.govt.nz/the-council/consultations-and-submissions/haveyoursay/show/71).