Businessman Ken Dart is making headlines on the other side of the world after donating more than 2,000 acres of land, including a hand-cut 43.4 mile mountain bike course, to the New Zealand government.
Mr. Dart is Cayman’s biggest investor and a mountain bike enthusiast. He recently built a private trail on his land in Little Cayman and is reported to have a network of similar bike trails all over the world. His Little Cayman trail is currently closed to the public for safety reasons, according to a Dart spokesperson.
One of those paths snakes through the Wairoa Gorge, an expansive area of natural forest in the Tasman region of New Zealand’s South Island. RHL, a Dart-owned company, announced Monday that the land and the trail will be donated to the New Zealand Department of Conservation.
The mountain bike park on the property is being made accessible to the public through an agreement with the Nelson Mountain Bike Club to maintain and operate the existing network of trails.
According to a press release from the company, Dart bought the land in 2010 as an investment in “conservation of the natural environment” and to create the mountain bike trails.
The land is expected to be formally handed over to the Department of Conservation by the end of the year.
Roy Grose, director of operations of the New Zealand Department of Conservation, said in the release, “Wairoa is an area of outstanding natural beauty. We are delighted the park will be conserved in perpetuity for recreational use and are grateful to RHL for their exceptional stewardship of the land over the past eight years.”
In partnership with the Nelson Mountain Bike Club, the Wairoa Gorge trails have been open to members since 2016. “This generous gift will help our community establish Nelson as one of the world’s leading destinations for downhill mountain biking,” said Paul Jennings, a spokesperson for the Nelson Mountain Bike Club.
Peter Fyfe, manager of RHL, said, “Wairoa is a special place to Ken. It wasn’t just the physical beauty of the land that impressed him, it was the work ethic and spirit of the team involved in building the trails, a group of young New Zealanders who learned their trade here in Wairoa and have gone on to become skilled trail builders working on projects elsewhere in New Zealand and around the world.”