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Creating a backdrop to adventure in Ashburton

What do you do with an ex-earthworks yard covered in broom, gorse and blackberry? If you’re anything like rad community group Mountain Bike Ashburton, you turn it into a mountain bike park, complete with lush native tree plantings.

Mountain Bike Ashburton was formed in 2010, and have been pretty busy over the last decade by anyone’s standards. They’re transforming the area along the Ashburton River, so far with 11.5km of cycle track, 2.5km of walkway, and a Skills Park. 

“We planted 5,000 native trees alongside a section of track in 2012 and it looks amazing,” explains James Reid, President. “It’s an incredibly nice spot compared with the rest of the riverside, where our tracks go through blackberry, broom and willows.”

The beauty of this work helped inspire Mountain Bike Ashburton’s current work on the Skills Park, which they took over and began to clear in 2016. 

“In 2018, we started planting the park with eco-sourced native trees,” James says. “We’re currently applying for more funding—between that, a Council grant, and 250 native trees funded through Trees That Count, we hope to get another 1000 trees in the ground this year.”

“TTC has been very helpful in supplying plants that will ensure this area remains a beautiful community asset into the future. We want our Skills Park to look great, provide shade for users in the summer, and attract native birds—and the trees also help to control erosion.” 

Along with their development of the land, Mountain Bike Ashburton’s membership has grown significantly. They now boast over 300 members, and their tracks see up to 1400 users every week: including cyclists, runners and walkers of all ages, parents with toddlers, people in their eighties, and everyone in between.

James reports that as well as the 40+ attendees to volunteer planting days, the sheer number of users at the park is also hugely motivating and rewarding for the group. 

“On a nice weekend day the park is full of people riding bikes, or just having picnics in the sun. That’s all the motivation we need!” 

“We want the Skills Park to be an enjoyable area for our whole community to use”, says James. “Whether it be on their bikes or simply taking a walk, enjoying nature or watching birds.”

Find out more about Mountain Bike Ashburton’s work or get involved at