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Mountain Bike Club members make their way along the Red Rocks on the Karaka Track. Photo: SUPPLIED

Donations needed for ‘backcountry destination’

Increases in the cost of building materials and fuel has left Thames Mountain Bike Club just short of their $68,000 target to upgrade a 3km track in the hills behind Thames.
But obtaining the funds is needed to create the “backcountry trail destination” the club has been working towards for the past 10 years.
Club treasurer, track builder, and rider Barry Ingle told The Profile that Stage 2 of the club’s Karaka Track upgrade is set to start on April 19 and will take six weeks to complete.
The route will take mountain bikers and walkers from the second bridge, located around 1.8km from the start of the track, up to what are known as the Red Rocks – also called Red Bluffs – rocks that have been dyed bright red by lichen.
It’s an “outstanding” view that many people haven’t had a chance to see, Mr Ingle said, due to the track’s degeneration.
“The track is so bad it’s only really enthusiastic people that walk up there,” he said, “but the views of the Red Bluffs and all up the Kaueranga are amazing. That is the main feature of going up that track, they’re just outstanding.”
As it is currently, the track turns into a “swamp” over winter and is almost unusable.
Having a new track – which will be a minimum of 1.5 metres wide – means walkers, runners, and mountain bikers will be able to witness the backcountry vista year-round.
The club raised $55,000 and were ready to start work on Stage 2 back in November, but the contractors weren’t available until this month.
In that time, “huge increases” in track building material and fuel costs caused by the Covid-19 pandemic and world events meant the club was now short on funds, Mr Ingle said.
The club requires an additional $13,277 to meet the $68,277 needed to upgrade the link to Red Bluffs.
“It’s definitely going ahead,” he said. “If we don’t get the funds, we end up just having to stop short of the Red Bluffs, that’s our only option.”
The club raised $75,000 back in 2018-2019 to construct two bridges along the track as part of Stage 1 of the upgrade project.
Stage 3 of the project, from the Red Bluffs lookout to the Waiotahi Junction, is scheduled for late-2022, pending funding of around $32,000.
“The club’s sinking quite a lot of money into something the public can use for free,” Mr Ingle said.
“Everything we’re doing is community related. It’s all for community use, community involvement, and getting people out enjoying the bush, mountain biking, and exercising.”
DETAILS: Anyone wanting to help with funds can either become a paid member of the TMBC, or make a donation via its website. The club’s Givealittle page can be found at: