Phase one of a three year trial draws to a close as mountain bikes are no longer permitted on the Heaphy Track. While the trampers have the Heaphy all to themselves, the bikers have until next May to plan their next Kahurangi adventure. The policy makers will sift through the statistics gleaned from the five month trial and determine the success and impact of close to 2000 riders on the great walk.
IF testimonials are anything to go by, the trial has been a roaring success as trampers have waded in behind the bikers with support for their cause. Bar some early reports of aggression from gun-ho riders, it seems both parties can enjoy the Heaphy in peace and as a unit can expect better facilities (new huts) and higher maintenance from DOC, to the benefit of all.
In terms of conservation, there are no reports of flattened kiwis or snails, a factor that will be a significant pro in the bikers pitch. As for wear and tear, there has been some notable rucking around the Lewis and Heaphy river flats. Sections of the McKay descent are mud traps, snaring front wheels and testing the tenacity of both bike and rider but, by and large, bike wear and tear pales in comparison to the influence of the tides and flooded rivers on the track.
So, the Heaphy Tracker verdict for year one - dual usage is fully possible.
Enjoy the Summer and we'll see ye back in Karamea in May.