New harbourside pump track pulls in crowds over holidays

There’s been no stopping young BMXers, skateboarders and scooter-riders these school holidays after Raglan’s newly built pump track bordering Kopua domain was declared all go for use.

Riders converged upon the challenging new circuit with a vengeance, taking pressure off the adjacent skatepark which has been a magnet for generations of local kids wanting to practise their ollies, fakies and other manoeuvres.

“The whole plan was to offload crowds from the skate park,” reveals local cycling promoter Dirk De Ruysscher who introduced the idea of a Raglan pump track at the time the mountain bike trail under the pine plantation overlooking  Ocean Beach was being built.

He told the Chronicle the existing BMX track – which the pump track replaces – had  become not only unsafe but also “too expensive” to maintain because of the prohibitive cost of carting lime from Te Kuiti  every year.

The old dirt track was constantly being eroded by wind, sand and sea whereas the pump track has a durable, low-maintenance, raised asphalt surface that’s a first for New Zealand, he says.

“There’s calls from other councils now to build something similar, so we won’t be exclusive for long,” he adds.

Raglan ward councillor Lisa Thomson says the $120,000 track – which was only two months in the making – is a “fantastic” facility for Raglan to have in its backyard. Her own teenage son, Karewa, has been among the throngs getting the most out of it every fine day of the holidays.

While the track is perhaps better suited to older children and teens, says Lisa, it’s been “awesome” to see little ones and adults also enjoying the new facility.

Funded by Raglan Kopua Holiday Park Board, the pump track is “bigger than anticipated” because its designers and builders – Chris Martin and Adam King – saw an opportunity to improve on their original plans while on site, Lisa explains.

The Rotorua-based pair – who established their own company ‘Empire of Dirt’ in 2012 – also built Raglan’s new MTB trail.  They’ve earned a reputation as world-class track builders since successfully completing the trails for New Zealand’s round of Crankworx – the world’s largest MTB festival.

“They’re both riders and they know what they’re doing,” Lisa adds. “It’s definitely a first for them, this level of (pump) track … I think we’ve got really good value.”

The key feature of a pump track is that it allows riders to “pump” more and pedal less to maintain speed over a series of rollers, berms and jumps. The 30 by 20 metre Raglan track also takes up a smaller space than the old BMX circuit, which in turn leaves plenty of room for landscaping.

That work is still to be completed, says Lisa, but meantime an official opening with a free barbecue is being planned to “celebrate the track as a community facility”.

“We’re calling it Te Raenga o Rokikore Pump Track,” Lisa reveals, te raenga meaning ‘point of land’ and Rokikore the original name of that area including the sandspit. The land there is actually not part of Te Kopua Domain, as people commonly think.

Edith Symes