There are lots of amazing volunteer-based organisations that have put decades of work into developing Wellington’s trail network, which is enjoyed by runners, walkers and mountain bikers. Wellington Trails Trust was one of the many groups helping to make great trails. Read the story on what this group has been doing and what they have to offer for a range of trail users in Wellington. We had a chat with Anthony Edmonds to get the inside story.
Can you tell us a bit about how Trails Wellington came about?
Before we get into the history, we have to give you, our pitch!
Trail runners should, download the Trails Wellington app and sign-up. While the post-run discounts you get on your beers at a range of different great Wellington bars makes it 100% worth it, it is also a way that trail runners can make a meaningful contribution to the creation of EPIC trails in and around Wellington. If you are one of those people who finds themselves running on beautiful volunteer-built trails like Transient in Polhill or on Makara Peak, wondering how you can contribute, we’re the answer. Sign-up and join Trails Wellington.
Trails Wellington is a coalition of passionate locals focused on creating EPIC trails in and around Wellington. Wellington’s point of difference as a global city is the linkage between the epic trails, our awesome city and our harbour.
There are lots of amazing volunteer-based organisations that have put decades of work into developing Wellington’s trail network, which is enjoyed by runners, walkers and mountain bikers. Wellington Trails Trust was one of the many groups helping to make great trails.
In the latter part of 2020, Rod Drury approached us and offered to invest in building trails on behalf of the Drury Family to make Wellington a world class mountain biking location. His financial contributions to Queenstown and Hawkes Bay have accelerated many projects needing funding to great effect. Wellington was in danger of being left behind as these towns along with Nelson, Rotorua and Palmerston North aggressively developing their respective trail networks. This became the opportunity to do a full refresh of Wellington Trails Trust, rebranding to Trails Wellington to make us more intergenerationally relevant.
This also was the catalyst for Wellington Mountain Bike Club, Makara Peak Supporters, Brooklyn Trails Builders, and Trails Wellington deciding to work more closely together to really leverage the amazing work that had been done by all these groups, as well as get more coordinated in the way that we were collectively working with the Wellington City Council.
In addition to recently upgrading and developing a whole lot of trails like Ikigai, Serendipity, North Face and Jail Brake, we decided to develop the Trails Wellington app as a way to build a common membership group covering all the people interested in mountain biking and Wellington’s trail network.
We launched the app in early June, and already have around 1,000 people with the app, and want to increase this to around 5,000 this year. Our message is simple, if you want more EPIC trails, then get onboard and join Trails Wellington through the app.
It is important people join the app, as this is the life-blood to being able to create EPIC trails.
Who are the key people behind Trails Wellington?
Mountain biking and trail building is mainly run by an army of volunteers, which has happened for a long time. People like the Kennett brothers, the Makara Peak Supporters, and the Brooklyn Trail Builders, have played a huge part in terms of getting to where we are today as an MTB friendly city.
Today there is a fresh squad of people behind Trails Wellington. Our trustees include Geoff Drury, Anthony Edmonds, Matt Farrar (each of who are Wellington business people who are also mountain bikers), Kate McIroy (ex-World champion mountain runner), Jono Baddiley (also president of the Wellington Mountain Bike Club), Simon O’Brien (also president of Makara Peak Supporters), Tom Cappleman (who runs WORD, which is the kids mountain biking program) and Craig Starnes (Brooklyn Trail Builders).
We are also in the process of bringing on two new trustees, being Rosara Joseph (who won a silver medal in the Commonwealth Games mountain biking, as well as being a Rhodes Scholar), and Izy Alloway (who is a WORD coach, plus a trainee paramedic) thus making Trails Wellington truly representative of the wider riding community.
Up until recently business people Sam Knowles, Livia Esterhazy, and James Winchester were trustees – and have provided significant contributions towards getting us to where we are today.
Chris Nicholls and Anthony Bradshaw also provide us with management support, and Boston Bright does our social media. Steve Boggs is the designer who helped with our brand, and Leif Roy has helped us develop our web page. Caleb Smith provides us with some incredible photos, as do people like Lisa Ng. Each giving up their time to contribute to create these EPIC trails.
Our coalition partners include Makara Peak Supporters, Wellington Mountain Bike Club, Brooklyn Trail Builders, and more recently WORD. We expect this group of partners to expand over time to include groups like Revolve (women cycling club), and the other trail groups around Wellington region like Mana Cycle Group, BAMBA (Belmont), Wainuiomata Trail Project and Tunnel Gully.
The Wellington City Council is a significant partner, as well as the economic agency WellingtonNZ. In council we work with everyone from the Mayor and the Councillors, through to the people within the Parks and Roading teams. There is great synergy with the Wellington Regional Trails Forum to market and enhance the quality of the public trail network (funded by the Councils in Wellington, WellingtonNZ and the region’s DOC office) with strong representation on the Community & Industry Engagement Forum. For trial running or mountain biking beyond the Wellington City boundaries in our wider region please visit: http://www.wellingtonregionaltrails.com
We have a range of businesses in support including Armstrong Prestige who are a major sponsor. The businesses who provide discounts and deals on the app include Shoe Clinic, ilabb, Bluebridge Ferry, Armstrongs, iRIDE, Burkes Cycles, My Ride, Pedal Project, Get Lost Cycling, Capital Cycles, Wellington MTB Adventures,Fluid Lines, Waitoa Social Club, One Fat Bird, Khandallah Trading Co, Double Vision Brewing, Hey Day, Parrotdog, The Borough, and Fortune Favours.
Members who download and join the app get discounts and deals from all these amazing businesses already 1000+ strong and growing steadily.
We are really keen to engage with the running community. Many of us also run on our trails and we recognise the linkages between running, riding, and walking. Enjoying our big backyard is what we as Wellingtonians do.
What are the key benefits for people who are part of the collective or want to join?
Most trail users want more trail options to use for variety and proximity or to get away further for new adventures. So the overarching benefit is that we create more EPIC trails. To do this we need an organised and consistent voice to lobby the council for their support to open up areas where we can do this. The Trails Wellington app is the way people can join us to be part of the movement. The more support we have on this, the more trails we can build. It is that simple. Not only that, paid members enjoy the benefits of deals from our official Partners spanning bike shops, local breweries and eateries plus health businesses. We plan to keep adding more and more Partners to the app over a wider range of services. The Partners are therefore seen as good businesses that are happy to be involved in something super positive for our city.
In summary people get a whole bunch of benefits from joining Trails Wellington’s app. They will:
- Be helping create EPIC trails in and around Wellington.
- Get access to our supporter business deals and discounts. This includes discounts from businesses like Bluebridge and Armstrongs, as well as discounts at bars like Hey Day, Parrotdog, One Fat Bird, Fortune Favours, The Borough, Waitoa Social Club, Khandallah Trading Company and Double Vision Brewing! It also includes deals at a range of bike shops including My Ride, iRIDE, Burkes, Capital Cycles, Get Lost and Pedal Project. We have groups like Shoe Clinic and ilabb on board as well.
- Automatically also become a member and supporter of the Wellington Mountain Bike Club, Makara Peak Supporters and Brooklyn Trail Builders.
- Be helping support groups like our partner WORD, who we are working with to provide scholarships to kids who otherwise wouldn’t be able to afford to ride.
It’s simple, the more people who join Trails Wellington, means the more EPIC trails we can create! Jump on the app and complete the sign-up process today.
What are your plans and vision for the future?
EPIC trails in and around Wellington pretty much sums up our vision!
Short term we are continuing to evolve our platform, build further support through members and corporates, particularly those headquartered here in Wellington. Again, they will be seen as supporting a project that enriches Wellington making it more likely to attract energetic, talented people to work here.
We are planning to look at expanding further into the Wellington region such as Porirua, Lower and Upper Hutt once we have been able to show we’ve made a significant impact to the trails close to the CBD. The model we’ve created needs be fully established and executed well before casting the net wider.
With trail development we will work with other groups to maintain trails, plant trees and support the trapping programme in place for Predator Free Wellington.
We are also keen to see more kids and women riding. Teaming up with WORD to ensure that 25 kids who couldn’t afford to join their program have the opportunity to participate. Doing this sort of thing is amazing, so we want to do more of it! We would love to see the day that we had disabled people riding hand-bikes down Wellington’s trails, like you see in places like Whistler.
Is there support from local governing bodies for this initiative?
The Wellington City Council are a major stakeholder in the work that we are doing. This reflects that these trails are typically on council land. We have a good relationship with the council, who appear to be grasping the importance of our trail network in terms of making Wellington a vibrant, cool, and environmentally friendly city to live and work in.
One only has to look at what has happened in Polhill (behind Aro valley) since the Brooklyn Trail Builders developed tracks like Transient, Ikigai, Clinical, Car Parts and Highbury Fling. In building the trails they have also planted nearly 30,000 trees, plus cleared webs and trapped the rodents and pests. Their catch cry is “trails, traps and trees”. Anyone can see that this area is quickly becoming EPICally awesome.
We think trails are the thing that provide the connectivity between our community and the environment. Anyone who has run through Wellington’s trail will know that feeling of stopping and looking at the views and the bush and having that “WOW” moment. This is the thing that gets people interested in conservation, and volunteering to help build trails or plant trees.
If we get thousands of people as members of Trails Wellington, we have a loud voice with the Council(s). Wellington City Council knows that each year nearly as many people visit Makara Peak as Zealandia, you can see that they put massively more money and resources into Zealandia. Likewise councilors can see hundreds of people enjoying the many parks and sports fields any given Saturday however those out enjoying our trails are harder to quantify. Members therefore put some real support and statistics behind our initiatives.
We think that there is great alignment between the work we are doing, and some of the Council’s initiatives. For example, we think that having informal-off road commuter trails linking different suburbs with the city is a no brainer. You could have great trails running from Island Bay, through MacAlister Park, then Prince of Wales Park, then Central Park, and into the city, which would be great for recreation purposes like running, plus also used as an informal-off road commuting trail. We have been talking to the Wellington City Council for years about this type of trail (which we already have a plan for), and while everyone agrees it is a great idea, no one within the Council has actually stepped up to be the sponsor of this – and drive this through to actually happen. Trails Wellington will continue to pursue the creation of these off-road kilometres.
Our recommendation is that the trail running community should definitely download the Trails Wellington app and sign-up. While the post-run discounts you get on your beers at a range of different bars makes it 100% worth it, it is also a way that trail runners can make a meaningful contribution to the creation of EPIC trails in and around Wellington.