August is a time for trees

Saturday 10 to Tuesday 20 August 2013

Yippy! It's time to head down to Project Rameka for some tree planting.
This year's goal was to plant out the slip face with 200-odd tutu, which has one of the best root profiles for retaining banks - and slipfaces apparently. It will never grow into an impressive forest giant, but it will attract the birds, and at this stage, we're keen on anything that will help stop the land sliding away and causing any more damage in the next serious rain event.
And after the tutu, there were more luscious native species to plant out along the historic section of the old Rameka pack track heading in to Great Expectations and The Odyssey.
A fantastic workparty on Sunday 18 August saw 20-odd volunteers planting out miro, hinau, totara, wineberry, rimu, lemonwood ... a whole feast of fantastic canopy and sub-canopy natives that can just chug their way up to the heavens.
Greg Thurlow joined us just in time. We called him our 'earthquake refugee', as the large 6.6 Friday earthquake took place a matter of hours before his ferry had him on his way from Wellington for a two-week holiday. He was happy to lend some muscle to ferry the plants down the track, dig holes for them and then, in the afternoon, tidy up the track, making it a bit wider and smoothing out some ruts and boggy bits.
Bronnie shows a willing group the finer art of tree shelter origami - don't scoff, these blighters are surprisingly complicated to construct.

Marking another great year for the Project

The annual Project Rameka AGM took place on Friday 24 May 2013. Andrew McLellan and Jonathan Kennett made a stealth mission from Wellington across to the Bay to take part in it and check out how things were progressing on the Project in general ...
Andrew beside a giant tree lucerne
  Andrew and Jonathan installed a tribute board for the epic Odyssey work parties.

Successful plantings next to the entrance

So the Project appears to be chugging along just dandy, thanks very much. And the AGM? Such events are always useful. They're a great way of forcing everyone to stop, collect their thoughts and celebrate the Project's successes - all of which we've covered in earlier posts. AGMs are also a good time to plan for the year ahead. And what are the plans?
Definitely continuing the Odyssey grade 4 track down to the valley so that expert riders can have a bit more space to challenge themselves but also so that more area will be opened up on the Project for pest control.
Pest controller Matt Shoult is still finding lots of damage from pigs roaming into the property from a range of points along the northwestern boundary, and mustelids and possums are relentless in their rovings through the area. Albie and Fil Burgess and Paul Kilgour are doing a fantastic job of knocking back the rat and mustelid populations with a well-established trapping line around the upper reaches of the Project. This line is being extended along The Odyssey as and when funds become available.
At this stage, a big nod must go to Kevin Hague from the Green Party for his contribution of funds to these traps. Kevin offsets his carbon footprint from all his work travel requirements with payments to the Project, and his offsetting goes straight into pest control and plants. Can't think of a better way to mitigate carbon pollution.

An Easter Odyssey

31 March and 1 April 2013

The Odyssey track building competition over Easter saw 55 people carve over 1000 metres of track. It ended up spanning two days, because we tried unsuccessfully to postpone on Sunday when the weather started out looking diabolical, but three Nelson teams were already on their way, despite torrential rain. Luckily it fined up, and they were joined by a dozen locals and the Kennett clan team from Wellington.

On Sunday, competitors built the track all the way through the pines to the 800 metre mark. First equal, having built 160 metres each, were the Quiet Revolution team and the Kennett clan team. The Trail Saints from Nelson were only 10 metres behind in third place.

The weather was perfect on Monday the 1 April, so 30 Golden Bay locals entered, but the building was much tougher as we carved across a steep scrubby face for almost 300 metres.

The end result is that well over half the track has been built. It is currently grade 4 in the pines and grade 5 below that. There is still a fair chunk of work to go, so it probably won't be rideable all the way through until summer.

Many thanks to the event sponsors for prizes and materials: Ground Effect, Giro, Cycletech, Quiet Revolution Cycle Shop and The Kennett Brothers.

The startline to the Odyssey competition


The Kennett's flavoursome Cyclops marks the start of the track - be warned, this track ain't for the faint hearted.
And here's how a Nelson crew from day 1 set to.
The Nelson Trail Saints take out a moment for a photograph - but just a moment mind; they were fully focussed on winning the day's event.

The Golden Bay team wasn't having a bar of it though; no photo rest for that team, they had prizes in their sights!
The mottly crew from day 1 at the end of the day, with the prizes laid out at the front of the photo just waiting for the results.
Paul Whitakker saw the potential in a fallen log - that's gotta be worth at least 50 points, right?

George, Sasha, Kerry and Fraser took a more considered approach to the competition, figuring that brains would win over brawn in this competition.
And at the end of day 2, more prizes were laid out, and the crews prepared to hear the results.

But sometimes, test riding the track is the best way to end the day.
There's always more to come though ... Jonathan and Ricky get their kicks out of bashing through gorse and barberry sussing out the sweet lines for the track to come.

The Odyssey!

Reveal The Trail
On Easter Sunday 31 March 2013, we're running the first ever track building competition. Teams of 3 to 4 will be assigned 20-metre sections of The Odyssey we can team you up with someone if you would like). Once you have built one section, the Umpire (Paul Kennett) will check it and blow a horn, announcing to all other teams that the section is complete. Then you wolf down some Easter eggs/buns and leap frog the teams in front of you to take the next 20-metre section.

The track building in this area is very easy, and we are hoping for a natural type of trail (ie, working around and over rocks, roots and trees). The trail corridor will have been cleared (minimally), so the building will be fast.
Prizes will be awarded to the winners (and everyone else) for style, creativity and quantity. See below for the technical guff.
Location:   Historic Rameka Track down to Rameka Creek (Project Rameka, 10 km from Takaka, Golden Bay).
Distance:   2 km
Grade:        4 (Advanced) down/5 (Expert) up
Width:        300mm – 600mm
Gradient:   Just follow the markers
Structures: Bonus points (2 per metre) given for structures. Pre order materials now, or bring your own.
Creativity:  Super bonus points (20-30) given for any artistic features relating to Greek Mythology.
Sections:   After the first 300 metres (which follows the historic Rameka Track) teams can choose up to 3 sections in a row (ie, up to 60 metres in length if they wish).
Tribute:      The names of each team (including team members) will be acknowledged on a sign at the top of the trail, along with the sponsors.
The Umpire: Paul Kennett is an ex-trials champion. He will attempt anything you build, and must be able to ride it both ways (uphill bus-stops allowed).
Dates:        30th March = reconnaissance day (optional)
                   31st March = Reveal the Trail
                   1st April = Ride the Trail (or this is a bad weather backup day)
The Outcome: The Odyssey will create a 6 km loop for mountain bikers, walkers and runners. It will also provide access for pest control and tree planting.
Food:         Easter eggs, hot cross buns, sports drink, and burgers will be supplied.
Tools:        Bring some gloves and tools if you like, otherwise, there will be some available.

The Story: The Odyssey is a Greek myth of epic proportions, that has led to many other stories, including most recently a movie called O’Brother Where Art Thou. Find out more here:

Teams from Wellington, Nelson and Takaka are already entered. For more information contact    info [at]

Pre-Xmas Tidy-up

26 November 2012
It's hard to sit at an office desk in Wellington and receive regular email reminders of Wedneday night workparties at Project Rameka. Very hard. All the images of sun and long grass and the purr of knobbly tyres down a dusty track come flooding in and can leave you hankering to get down there and join the fun. The last week of November; things were a little quieter in the city, and the lure proved too hard to resist.

This trip followed a familiar and enjoyable format:
Spring is an important time for plant growth - and that includes the weeds. The first two days on the Project saw all hands on deck releasing the natives from long grass, biddy-bid and other choking weeds.
Just to remind us all how important releasing is, and how much the trees can achieve when they have the space to grow, Jonathan took the following photo of Bronnie heading past some wineberry and lemonwood that were planted by Corrina and Patrick Ward in 2009. Three years old, and these natives have really added to the experience of riding Great Expectations. No wonder Bronnie is smiling!
And because Great Expectations is riding so nicely, it seemed appropriate to add in a bit of spring cleaning maintenance work to the track. Bronnie swept loose rock away from the switchbacks, while Ricky and Frank built up the edges into a fine rock wall.
Tim Galloway joined in, helping tidy the short Kaikomako Walk near the hut, named for the kaikomako (Pennantia corymbosa) trees that abound in the area.
This time, we also treated ourselves to an outing, joining in the celebrations for opening the initial stage of the Takaka Walking and Cycling Track along the Takaka River edge from Paines Ford. And an elegant piece of track it surely is! Hats off to all involved in designing and constructing such a fine trail.

Winter Workout

18 August 2012
A trip to Rameka in the winter months is always an interesting experience. Will the weather play ball? Will the sun hold out long enough for some track to be dug and plants to get in the ground or will wind, rain and hail confine us all to the shelter of the wee Lorax Lair?

The balance swung more in our favour when Andrew McLellan decided to make a mid-winter cycle trip across from Wellington. With this dogged powerhouse involved, we were fairly confident that all 600 seedlings would get in the ground regardless of the weather, and Andew lived up to our expectations.
Martin Langley, Matt Nalder and Tim from Christchurch had already festooned the slip area with flaxes donated by Tim Prebble just after the Christmas disaster.

Now, on the Saturday, together with Jonathan Kennett, Bronnie Wall, Fill and Albie Burgers, Paul Kilgour and a select group from the Golden Bay Tramping Club ensured that 250 trees and flax were snuggly in place. And the sun shone the whole time.
But the good weather would not last. On the Sunday, the team were joined by Murray Drake, Ginny Wood, and their friends Bill, Gill and son Louie, from Nelson, and a further 250 trees and flaxes found their way into new homes in the ground around the slip areas and the Lorax Lair. All this planting was completed under grey skies that soon turned to drizzle and then steady rain.

The only solace was that there was no wind. The sodden planters returned to the Lorax Lair for a late lunch and decided to leave the remaining 100 plants for another day. And fair enough.
Come Monday, the skies cleared once more, and Andrew led the charge!
With the plants safely in the ground, it was time to turn the attentions to other matters. Now that Great Expectations had met ... well, all expectations, people were keen to see the more advanced track The Odyssey develop. Jonathan and Andrew headed out to continue sketching out the design Brent Hartshorne had initiated the year before.

The Odyssey would not only provide some serious fun for advanced mountain bikers, but more importantly, it would open up an area of the Project that had not yet been explored and allow Matt Shoult easier access for pest control. Fun and conservation together ... a winning combination!

And while we might have suggested that Great Expectations was done and dusted, who can resist a little tidy-up every now and again? Jonathan and Bronnie spent a few quiet hours "massaging" a couple of the harder switchbacks to make them smoother and easier to cycle round.

Knuckling down

28 April 2012
Anzac Day had been and gone, and it was time to spruce up Great Expectations in preparation for some good autumn mountain biking.

The main focus was on track maintanence and upgrading sections that had deteriorated with time and use. This translated to a fair amount of track widening and clearing off-putting loose rocks from the track.
It wasn't long before people's attentions focussed in on one particular corner. The section where stage 1 of Great Expectations had jumped out on to the road, at the slip point was now more or less redundant. The slip had confirmed that, but more to the point, Great Expectations now continued in wide swoops right down to the valley. In future, the short-cut out to the road would be reinstated, but for now, the focus was on inproving the flow of the main track - Great Expectations.

Over two hours, four to six eager workers built up a sweet sweeping berm that would have cyclists spinning down and onwards without a pause.
At the same time, Paul Kilgour led a hardy group in planting out 50 totara around the sunny ridged area of the berm. This would lead the corner to be nicknamed Totara Berm, a name that would stick.