Trail Stories: Wayfinding in Waiheke

Trail Stories: Wayfinding in Waiheke

While there’s no doubt a few favourite trails out there that have little or no signage for ‘good’ reason, Trail Fund is a proud supporter of helping build, maintain and provide sign-posted access to the hundreds of awesome trails around the country. Since its inception, Trail Fund has provided funding to help mountain bikers find their way around trail networks in Wellington, Queenstown and, most recently, Waiheke Island.

“A common and frustrating problem for a lot of first time visitors to mountain bike spots is getting lost and/or having no idea which track is which and either sticking to one track or ending up going the wrong way,” says former Waiheke Mountain bike Club fundraising committee member Damien Clarke.

“It’s certainly been an issue at Rangihoua, Waiheke's mountain biking area at Onetangi Sports Park, for the past ten years – especially since we get a lot of tourists riding there. While working on the tracks or riding, I would often come across riders pushing their bikes up our steepest track pondering why anyone would build a track that clearly requires the legs of a Greek God to ride up.”

The Rangihoua trail network, which is easy 25-minute ride from the ferry, has grown significantly in the past few years – both in size and popularity – and the club hopes to continue its expansion. Currently, the seven kilometres of track is divided into six trails that form two loops. Most of the tracks are Grade 2 and 3, with one Grade 4 track – Zoom Zoom – for the more competent riders to enjoy.

Wellingtonian Samuel Passell, who has previously lived on Waiheke, urged the club to look at installing signage similar to that designed by Oliver Ward and installed at Makara Peak, as he thought they looked sharp and had dramatically improved wayfinding in the area.

Despite general support for the initiative, details had to be worked out and it would be almost a year before the work was complete.

“We assembled costs and received funding from Trail Fund NZ early on. Then, after a lot of planning, many committee meetings, a couple of late night skype calls and several day long text relays a plan was finally approved, submitted and the signs were printed,” says Damien.

Keen to complete the project, Samuel joined damine in Waiheke for what seemed like an impossible mission – install all 18 signs in three days.

“It was a pretty epic feat but we did it with help from the Waiheke Mountain Bike club, a post hole borer, two motorised wheelbarrows and two ten-hour days, both of which finished with work being completed in darkness!” says Damien.

“So finally we have a top class network of signs for our trails, a system which can be easily added to and posts buried so deep in the ground that people in Southern Spain must be hucking them!”

Special thanks to Trailfund, Ground Effect Clothing, Samuel Passell and Oliver Ward – all of whom donated either time or money.