Work is under way on the Bluff Hill Motupōhue Active Recreational Precinct with hopes that it will bring people from across the country to the southern town.
Invercargill City Council is working closely with the Southland Mountain Bike Club and project manager Logic Group Ltd to create an adventure park that will attract riders from all over the country.
Council Manager Parks and Recreation Caroline Rain said after a lot of planning, it was exciting to get the project under way.
“The Bluff Hill Motupōhue Active Recreational Precinct is a key component for Great South’s Bluff Tourism Master Plan, which aims to make Bluff a significant tourist destination.
“Our aim is to make Bluff Hill Motupōhue a national mountain biking destination – a place that appeals to the needs of both recreational and elite riders. I’m confident our partnering with Logic and the Southland Mountain Bike Club will deliver exactly this.
“The precinct is intended to be a multi-use facility that we envision including further mountain bike championships as well as the potential to include events such as the Burt Munro Challenge.
“There is a lot of potential in Bluff and there are plenty of things already in motion to make it a more attractive place to visit, live, play and work.”
Along with funds from the Long Term Plan, the project was given a funding boost of $981,380 from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment for upgrades and developments of the Bluff Hill Motupōhue mountain bike and walking paths, as well as the design and build of toilets and expansion of car parks.
Basic work started on site in October, with the space cleared for the car park and toilet area as part of the SKODA National School MTB Championships.
An archaeological assessment had taken place in this area, which found nothing of significance, Rain said. Further archaeological evaluations will take place next year.
Southland Mountain Biking Club President Donald Heslip said the precinct was going to be a great boost for Bluff.
“This will be something to help rejuvenate it, and it’s also a drawcard for cycling tourism for Southland.”
The tracks on Motupōhue would not be groomed and manicured like a lot of other mountain biking trails in the likes of Central Otago.
“Cyclists don’t necessarily want all manicured tracks. The precinct will have something for every rider, including some rough and raw trails. It’s something we’re really excited about.
“It’s great to see it come to fruition. I looking forward to February when we can turn some dirt and kick it into life.”
Mountain biking tracks ranging from Grade 1 (easiest) to Grade 4 (advanced), and new walking tracks will be developed for the hill. Existing mountain biking and 2.5km of walking tracks would be upgraded, Rain said.
Bluff Community Board Chairman Ray Fife said the precinct was not only going to be good for Bluff but for Southland as well.
“We had the National School Mountain Biking Championships in Bluff earlier in the year, so the new precinct will attract more riders from all over.”
The help of the Bluff Hill Motupōhue Environment Trust was also being enlisted to assist with restoration of the hill and planting of native plants as they had done for other parts of Bluff Hill in an effort to restore the forest to ensure plants and animals can thrive.
A concept design of the recreational precinct was expected in April, and the project was expected to be completed in March 2024, Rain said.
“We hope to see an increase in visitors to Bluff, in part because of the recreational precinct. Most recently, we had 628 mountain bikers from 113 schools in Bluff for the 2022 Skoda National Mountain Biking Championships.
“We’re looking forward to seeing events attracting these kinds of numbers more often in the future.”