Opinions differ on shared Peninsula Bay track

A view of the Peninsula Bay subdivision looking back towards the Wanaka township. PHOTO: ARCHIVE
A view of the Peninsula Bay subdivision looking back towards the Wanaka township. PHOTO: ARCHIVE
There have been no complaints of bikers and joggers colliding in Peninsula Bay Reserve yet, but user conflicts are heading to the Queenstown Lakes District Council boardroom.

Bike Wānaka and Forest & Bird reveal different opinions on trail management in their submissions to the council’s draft Peninsula Bay Reserve management plan, due to be finalised early next year.

Bike Wānaka president Ewan Mackie last week called for club members to back a new shared biking and walking track in the reserve, leaving existing informal trails for bikers only, for safety reasons.

This week, Central Otago Forest and Bird committee member Anne Steven questioned why mountainbikers should have the informal tracks, best views and associated picnic tables to themselves.

"I’ve run and walked around there myself for more than 20 years and hardly ever come across a biker," she said in an interview with the Wānaka Sun.

The new shared track was proposed by the Upper Clutha Tracks Trust and would be built to a grade 3 standard.  

Grade 3 trails are generally wider, easier and less technical to ride than rough and unpredictable grade 1 or 2 tracks, and can be gravel or sealed.

Mrs Steven said the new shared track was unnecessary and the council should upgrade one of the informal mountainbiking tracks to grade 3 standard for shared use instead.

The proposed shared track would also go straight through rare, undisturbed short tussock land and cushionfield; believed to be the only example of that natural vegetation left in the increasingly urbanised Wanaka, Mrs Steven  said.

For that reason, the council should avoid building new tracks as much as possible, she said.

The branch is calling for a full ecological survey and ecological plan to be done before a development plan and any track work.

That work should identify the extent of the short tussock and cushionfield area and protect it from disturbances, Mrs Steven said.

There were 169 submissions on the draft plan by the November 27 deadline.