More than 2,000 acres of forest land owned by Kenneth Dart was handed over to the New Zealand government on Friday. The land has been designated as recreation reserve, which includes a mountain bike park.
The Wairoa Gorge land, which comprises 2,127 acres of native forest in the Tasman, Nelson region of the South Island, will be held in perpetuity by the Department of Conservation, partnering with the Nelson Mountain Bike Club, to provide public access to the property’s network of trails.
The donation came from the Kenneth B. Dart Foundation, which was established in 2015 by Dart to provide economic support to community initiatives and projects.
Department of Conservation Northern South Island Operations Director Roy Grose said in a press release, “The mountain bike park, hand-built to international standards, is highly valued by New Zealanders and overseas visitors, many of whom come to New Zealand specifically to ride its tracks. It is a valuable natural and recreational asset for the Nelson-Tasman region. The arrangements for management of the land mean people can continue to enjoy its excellent mountain biking amenities and its beautiful natural environment.”
Dart, who is a mountain biking enthusiast, purchased the Wairoa Gorge land in 2010 through his company RHL, which worked with more than 60 local trailbuilders to create a downhill mountain bike park.
Representing Dart at the formal handover on Friday in New Zealand, RHL executive Ray Griffin said, “Ken’s appreciation for Wairoa’s natural beauty brought him here initially, but it was the work ethic, skill and passion of New Zealand’s craftsmen that really made an impression.
“With the Nelson Mountain Bike Club continuing to manage the bike park, Ken hopes others will have the chance to ride the spectacular trails and enjoy the camaraderie of the local mountain bike community as he has.”
Recreation reserves in New Zealand provide public access to coastlines, forests and rivers across the country.