Golden Bay, in the Nelson Tasman region, is a remarkably beautiful part of New Zealand. The area has long offered rich opportunities for tramping, rock climbing, sailing, kayaking, caving – a vast range of outdoor activities to be enjoyed within a stunning natural setting.

All were catered for bar one notable exception, one that has also arguably become New Zealand’s most high-profile recreational exercise: cycling. Winding, narrow and surprisingly busy roads (particularly in the summer season) often turned road biking into a dangerous sport, while opportunities for mountain bikers were virtually non-existent.

When Wellington software developers Phil Castle and Beth Burdett moved to Takaka in 2002 they quickly became aware of this shortcoming.

“I strongly believe there should be places close to where people live where they can go and enjoy the outdoors, and go for a walk, or ride,” says Phil. “We need to have chunks of land that we can put aside, protect from development, and keep as wild spaces.”

Beth Burdett and Phil Castle hacked their way through head-height gorse to create tracks among stunning scenery (Jonathan Kennett)

Phil and Beth set up the Rata-Tui Restoration Trust and bought their own ‘chunk of land’ in 2010, a 48-hectare tract of Motupipi Hill. They wanted to use the heavily wooded terrain to demonstrate their strongly held belief that a conservation ethic can coexist with a recreational focus.

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