By Suzanne Hansen.
A primary focus of the Mercury Bay Business Association’s Development Vision is the development or restoration of assets that will facilitate the growth of the Mercury Bay region by bringing people here for multiple day stays attracting requisite spends. Of course, these assets will vary in shape, size and demographics attracted but one key part of this vision is that we build and promote ourselves as a nationally significant mountain and trail bike destination, attracting the growing population of touring and adventure bike riders. With the advent of the eBike, the demographics of those who utilise NZ’s Great Ride trails around the county are morphing from extreme adventure riders to a wide spectrum of ages and capabilities, and we need to be able to cater across that spectrum. If we consider the exponential growth in spend of the newly enabled eBike riders, many who are pre-retired or retired, the potential revenues created by these financially comfortable riders coming into our towns to live their adventures can be quite large – somewhat akin to the “grey nomads” in motorhomes who boosted many regional economies in this country between and after Covid lockdowns.
In 2021, an MBIE (Ministry of Business, innovation and Employment) study of the economic returns created by the average Great Rides visitor spend was calculated at $892.20 per visitor and an 18 per cent increase in visitor nights year with growth that has since exponentially accelerated during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. On all the Great Rides the key hub towns, which all have uniquely different rider experiences and services, are the beneficiaries. When you look at the unique business hubs of the Coromandel Peninsula, we have the potential to offer even more in terms of services, hospitality, and adventure tourism to visiting cyclists, but we have not up until recently, had a regional approach.
This looks to change, with the Hauraki-Coromandel Biking Strategy, a draft strategy prepared for Destination Hauraki Coromandel by Ally Davey in September 2022. TCDC has now contracted Ally Davey to help with its development and public engagement. Ally has a passion and rich pedigree on promoting outdoor pursuits and in the past few years, she has helped pull together nine Coromandel clubs and interested parties to form a trails collective, aiming to connect 400 km of existing off-road trails around the region. The draft Hauraki-Coromandel Biking Strategy is the fruit of these efforts.
Before moving to the Coromandel, Ally helped run Girls on Top, a club encouraging women to take up multisport. She’s carried this passion through, running Wahine on Wheels at the Ride Coromandel Town Bike Park for women and girls. The TCDC, with Ally’s support have now gone to the public with this draft strategy and are looking to gather feedback on the plan goal "to create a world-class trail network and experience that preserves and enhances the environment for our residents, visitors and all who experience them.”
Such a vision will need to include offerings of world-class beginner trails, safe access from urban hubs and excellent commercial servicing providing hire bikes, tours and all the related products and services. The complementary visitor market is a large visitor opportunity, as these visitors are a captive audience once they are already in the area. While 85 % of visitors to the Coromandel are domestic, a nationally significant biking network or Great Ride in the Coromandel would attract more international tourism.
Community Feedback: The Draft Strategy presents a broad vision, rather than outlining specific areas of development but before the team begin planning next steps, they want to hear our community’s feedback on:
The vision and key goals of the strategy;
Any specific outcomes or concerns related to specific areas of our region
Whether folk would like to be involved in giving further feedback or future projects
Efforts and resources have been directed to feasibility and individual strategic projects in the key towns which represent the peninsula’s four hubs of Thames, Coromandel Town, Whitianga, Whangamata. The team are looking to build on current cycling initiatives in each hub, based on their current states. They are not looking to compete with existing projects but rather embrace connect and enhance them. This framework is consisting of off-road, recreational cycle trails and family-orientated bike recreation throughout the Hauraki - Coromandel region. Commuter transport routes and safe cycling pathways through town are not included in the plan but are integral in the long-term access and sustainability of cycling in the region.
Whitianga Bike Park: With Whitianga as one of the central hubs, there is some discussion in the draft strategy about how the existing Whitianga Bike Park will fit in to the proposed strategy structure which has as a centre goal, a recreational complex with a minimum of forty kilometres of shared trails, accessible within ten minutes of cycling from each primary hub. Although the draft strategy calls out the Whitianga Bike Park’s compact size and physical limitations for expansion, according to Chrissie Reilly from the Whitianga Bike Park, there are developments in the works to align the park to hub strategy. Chrissie encourages Mercury Bay residents to respond to the survey with any ideas they might have for experiences that the Whitianga Bike Park could provide going forward.
Whether you ride bikes or not, now is your time to have input as to where this whole great initiative can go. The draft Hauraki-Coromandel Biking Strategy is a solid and practical document which can be found
Take the Survey!
The basis of the plan is to sustainably connect our unique communities and to showcase our environments, through a “world class” biking trail network which will put us on the map for great rides. The survey covers key visions and goals, specific outcomes for our area. It can be found on
Everyone who fills in the survey will go in the draw to win: A weekend family pass to Whangamatā Ridges Mountain Bike Park; A $200 voucher to Jolly Bikes.
Immerse Yourself in the Inaugural Bike Mercury Bay 'Gran Fondo' Cycle Ride Saturday, 2 September, 2023. A Gran Fondo is a long-distance cycle ride for recreational cyclists of all abilities. The term ‘Gran Fondo” is Italian and can be roughly translated as ‘BIG Ride’. Fondo means ‘ride’ and Gran means ‘big’. For updates see: www.facebook.com/bikemercurybay/