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Mountain bike coaching at the Whitianga Bike Park.

From around-the-world mountain biking to Whitianga.

By Pauline Stewart.

Mercury Bay Coaching at the Whitianga Bike Park.

Youth Mountain Bike Progressional Programmes to begin in June.

“It's exciting to be on the same page with many others who have a vision and passion for the present and for the future of our youth and our families,” says Whitianga Bike Park Manager, Jon Maud. “Mark Bunyan has a real connection with the young ones at the Bike Park and we are very proud to have him not only assist us but to have someone of Mark’s calibre enabling the Bike Park to keep offering the standard of cycling and track challenges sought after by mountain bikers as well as the leisure riders and the all age troupes on holiday wanting to enjoy a biking experience in safety. Mark brings years’ experience in teaching and coaching the skills of mountain and trail cycling in many parts of the world. He is a gift to us and to the young people of this region. He is also a dad and that helps in his understanding and the patience needed when teaching children and young people, not just how to ride but trying new and sometimes daring things with a heightened awareness of others, the environment and of safety.”

Meet Mark

Mark Bunyan was born in Rotorua and at a very young age, he exhibited a love for being on a bicycle. That hasn’t changed. Working on trails and crafting dirt with friends to make the ride more exciting was their daily play time. Their fun was focussed on their bicycles - making magical dirt ribbons through the forest with jumps, corners and all manner of fun features. “The reward of our hard work was then sampling the tracks, riding our old bikes down these things we hardly passed for trails,” Mark.

Now, fast forward 30 years, sure bikes have changed, yet Mark’s passion for bikes and our youth and community hasn't. “Bikes have taken me all over the world,” says Mark. From racing to building a well-respected mountain bike coaching business for youth and adults; working with hundreds of youths and adults over the last 14years in Canada and around the globe has truly been rewarding. I have coached, managed down-hill teams and a BMX team. It was a lot of fun and I experienced along with my teams, such satisfying achievements.”

Mark sees the bicycle as an amazing tool to assist the development of self-confidence in our youth; with fundamental skills being learned from riding that they can add into their toolbox of life. He is particularly pleased when there is feedback from the parents and youth saying their self-confidence increases in other areas of life too. These young people also build incredible friendships, enjoy our fantastic forests and are outdoors in a fun and safe environment.

During the most recent school holiday period in April, Mark led several youth programmes which ran every day, teaching them the fundamentals of riding bicycles and doing some mountain biking.

“The feedback was incredible”, say Mark, “and so Mercury Bay Coaching is excited to be offering our after-school bike programmes starting in June for three age levels (see adjacent details).

We are also open to working with Playcentres, other local schools and community groups,” says Mark. “Adult programmes are also available. If you have a bike, please bring that, but we do have bikes here that have been gifted by the community and maintained by our volunteers. It is a great setting here at the Bike Park - well-formed paths and enough challenges in the tracks to build experience, confidence and to have a great time.”

We encourage readers to contact Mark for any further enquiries, questions, suggestions you may have.

Contact: Mercury Bay Coaching Mark Bunyan 021 87 1977 email:

From Noel Hewlett

“In the twenty years of operation, the Whitianga Bike Park has become the hidden treasure (on land) of Mercury Bay. There it is, stuck out of town off Moewai Road, beyond the airport, but this flood plain and large area of adjacent bush have been developed to the degree that it is now a holiday and tourist attraction, particularly for families with children of different ages and different levels of cycling competence. And there are tracks for the experienced adult and adventurous adult rider.”

From 2017, when the new Manager, Jon Maud, took over the reins at the Bike Park, it has been transformed to a new level. Jon has bought innovation, and a higher level of operation to the amenities and to the tracks. He has a great team of volunteers there, though he always needs more and Jon is the first to say that the support and encouragement from the community has made the Bike Park what it is today.

The Informer spoke to two families on their way into the park. “My sons and I come once a week and two or three times a week in the summer; they like going over the jumps. My oldest is now 16 and he comes by himself for longer periods. We have been coming for ten years.”

“Our children are very young; we always bring our bikes. In the summer the shaded tracks are very welcome. After a ride they play with the novelty toys. This is a great outing and one we can afford.”

From Bruce Chambers

The Whitianga Bike Park is a public facility developed by the Whitianga Bike Club. Bruce Chambers, an original founding member, recently wrote and published a book on its history, 2002 - 2023. To quote Bruce, “What the club has achieved physically, is the conversion of a barren, clay, blackberry covered site and a hillside covered with scrub and ferns into a very useable public amenity.”

The Whitianga Bike Park was built and developed by years of sweat and toil, a belief in making a dream possible and a fundamental understanding of the spirit of volunteerism. The Hewlett brothers – Ray (deceased) and Noel, members of the Whitianga Bike Club, Whitianga Lions Club, Whitianga Menz Shed, Thames Coromandel District Council grants and donations of materials, Pub Charity Grants, community donors, volunteers and users, students at MBAS and the Corrections department with their manpower, have all contributed to this great facility, some to a sacrificial extent over years.

Caption: Mark Bunyan.

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