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Rotorua mountain biking strategy wins local government EXCELLENCE Award

Turning Rotorua into a globally recognised destination for mountain bikers has paid dividends for the city and surrounds in many ways. 

Turning Rotorua into a globally recognised destination for mountain bikers has paid dividends for the city and surrounds in many ways. 

Now the leadership and strategy needed to see that goal realised as a highly successful project has seen Rotorua Lakes Council win the MartinJenkins Judges' Choice Award for Outstanding Value and Service Delivery in this year’s LGNZ EXCELLENCE Awards.

The project was announced as the award winner at a gala dinner in Auckland attended by more than 650 delegates from local and central government, and stakeholders, last night.  Now in their fourth year, the EXCELLENCE Awards recognise and celebrate the key leadership role that local government plays in communities around the country.  

Rotorua Lakes Council took a long-term, strategic intervention approach to maximise recognition of the region as a global mountain biking mecca.  The council interventions focused on trails and infrastructure, collaboration and partnerships, and major events. 

The mountain bike strategy has been a 20-year-journey for Rotorua, taking in the 2006 world championships, the world single-speed championships (2010 and November 2017), and the Crankworx World Series event. 

It has involved extensive consultation and collaboration with iwi, the community and local businesses with the Council now holding a 49 per cent share in promotional company Mountain Bike Events Ltd which has been awarded Crankworx until 2027.  The 2016 Crankworx event alone brought in $8 million to the community. 

Outside of events, the number of people riding the Whakarewarewa trails increased from approximately 55,000 to 250,000 between 2005 to 2016, while the Te Ara Ahi Thermal by Bike trail opened in 2013.  

LGNZ President Lawrence Yule says Rotorua is a jewel in New Zealand’s outdoor adventure crown. 

“When you think of Rotorua, mountain biking is one of the first things that springs to mind.  This is the result of a well thought out and executed strategy and a wonderful achievement for the region and the Council,” Mr Yule says. 

Awards judges said Rotorua is now internationally recognised as a mountain biking destination and the spin-off from that is real and visible.  

“Rotorua has a clear strategy and what they are doing is specialising in a niche they are growing and that will continue to have benefits.  Mountain biking has become to Rotorua what film is to Wellington.” 

Judges for the awards are former Wellington Mayor Kerry Prendergast, Chair of EQC Sir Maarten Wevers and The New Zealand Initiative’s Executive Director, Dr Oliver Hartwich.