Know before you go - AdventureSmart

The banks of the Orari River are set to become a magnet for cyclists with the completion of the Geraldine Mountain Bike Trail; a Geraldine Lions project utilising Environment Canterbury river access tracks and involving the regional council in a supervisory role.

Environment Canterbury Rivers Engineering Officer Bruce Scarlett believes the project is the first in the region to utilise river berm tracks (rather than stop banks) for multi-purpose recreational use.

The result is two riverside loop tracks, each about 10 kilometres long along with additional link tracks, that add up to a total of about 30 kilometres of trails stretching between Vance Road and the Upper Orari bridge.

“This project is a great example of how flood protection works, such as our river access tracks, can be a wider community asset,” says Mr Scarlett.

Geraldine Lions president Neville Robertson says the inspiration for the project came from club members who were keen mountain bikers. Teams of Lions volunteers, assisted by local cubs, spent over a year working bees onsite, clearing overgrown sections of the tracks and cleaning up rubbish. Fallen trees were chopped into firewood and given to needy households.

“We can see the track being used not only by locals but by visitors to Geraldine so we’re working at publicising it, including through the Geraldine i-SITE,” says Mr Robertson.

The project was funded through commercial sponsorship along with some proceeds from the club’s inaugural Geraldine Mountain Bike Challenge that was held along the tracks earlier this year. The Timaru District Council contributed two large signboards at both ends of the track with Lions adding more signs along the routes.

Lions projects convenor Allan Kelly says the trails are already well used. Club members have been especially pleased to see the number of family groups out biking along with people making use of the improved access for walking. The track is graded as relatively easy but several stretches of more challenging trails have also been created for more experienced cyclists.

The Lions Club, again with Environment Canterbury co-operation, are planning to extend the tracks further upstream.