Trail Stories: Wellington’s own magic mountain

Trail Stories: Wellington’s own magic mountain

Trail Fund supports builders’ mission to bring NZDH rounds back to Wellington by improving local DH track

With mist creeping over its tree tops on a drizzly Wellington day, it’s easy to believe that that Karori Hill is as magic as its diggers describe.

“There’s gold in that hill,” says Curtis Johnstone as he settles back against Mud Cycles’ exterior with co-trail building junkie Mike Stirrat. “The dirt is gold, the rocks are gems and the lines are sick… no matter what type of dirt or rock you need, you can find it in that hill… yea boi!”

Thanks to recent support from Trail Fund NZ, said gold is going to help take the existing DH track, K-Hole, to the next level by adding a feature-full new line at the top.

“It’s awesome for three reasons,” says Curtis. “It will create complete separation from the walking track, add almost a full minute to the time it takes to ride the track and allow us to add some sweet new features.”

According to Mike and Curtis, these features – a double, a step up and a massive bermed corner – are only possible thanks to Trail Fund’s contribution.

“The money is going towards materials and hiring a local trail builder to backfill the berm,” says Mike. “It will take them a day whereas it would take us... who knows how long. My family would forget who I was!”

The pair have been building and re-building K-Hole for the past three years, and they admit it’s a labour of love.

“My wife keeps telling me I’m not allowed to walk the dog there anymore because, inevitably, I’ll see a section that could just use a little touch up, and next thing you know it’s a few hours later,” says Curtis, who lives locally.

Mike is so committed to the area that he drives over from Wainui, battling traffic to enjoy the sweet serenity of the magic mountain.

Bringing back NZDH

However, both guys admit the digging isn’t completely altruistic; they both want to see some NZDH rounds back in Wellington, but they need the right trail to draw it back.

“We haven’t had an NZDH round here since Tunnel Gully closed a few years ago and it’s such a shame, given the scope of riding in Wellington and the size of the city,” says Mike. “There used to be some fairly top end DH riding going on here in Wellington.”

Curtis is confident that the comeback relies on K-Hole.

“With this new entrance, we’re pretty confident people will want it added to the circuit,” says Curtis.

“The track’s got a little bit of everything so if we can get them here, and especially if the one in Porirua goes ahead, that’s Wellington back on the DH map.”

Navigating bush and conflict

Given the hill’s golden dirt, Curtis says the most challenging aspect of the built is navigating your way through the bush pre-track.

“The hardest part of building up there is the scrambling around on the forest floor that’s required at the start to choose the right line,” says Curtis. “Next the ranger will cut it with a chainsaw, then we’ll check that all the sections will work, tweaking and adjusting as we go.”

However, the real challenge for K-Hole and its volunteers has been navigating conflict from other local users.

“It’s tough to convince them that we’re not trying to drive them out, we just love riding bikes and are keen to use the space as well,” says Mike.

He and Curtis both agree that working with the local council early is the best way to address user conflict issues.

“Some people are always going to dislike what you’re doing but, if you have taken the time to liaise with the right people ahead of time, all you can do is say that you have the right to build, and get on with it!

“We are so grateful to Trail Fund for seeing the value in this project,” says Curtis. “They’ve given us the ability to build a new top section of radness – if it wasn’t for that money then this wouldn’t be happening. It’s “just rad!