MINISTER ASKS CONSERVATION AUTHORITY TO REVIEW POLICY ON MOUNTAIN BIKES IN NATIONAL PARKS

  • Nick Smith
Conservation

Conservation Minister Nick Smith has asked the New Zealand Conservation Authority to review the general policy that prohibits mountain biking in National Parks.

"Mountain biking is becoming increasingly popular amongst recreationalists, but the current blanket ban enables no provision to be made at all for there use in National Parks. The current policy, that classifies all bikes alongside trucks and cars, predates the development of mountain biking and needs reviewing. Research conducted by the Department of Conservation's Science and Research Division has concluded that the physical impacts of mountain biking on tracks are no greater than that of trampers".

Mr Smith said he was not promoting open slather for mountain bikes, which would be as illogical as an absolute ban.

"Mountain biking in many National Parks would be inappropriate. Clearly the conflicts between trampers, hunters and other users would need to be carefully managed. However, it would be quite proper to make some limited access available on routes like the Heaphy Track or Barrons Flat. Access could be limited to specific times of the year when tramper numbers are low".

Mr Smith said the issue had come to a head with the drafting of the Kahurangi National Park Management Plan. The plan could not consider mountain biking, despite strong public support for it, while the current policy was in place.

"The Conservation Authority will need to consult with interested groups prior to making a final decision. The controversy has been around for some time and needs to be addressed.".