A small rural community near the western shores of Lake Taupo played host to 800 riders taking part in two days’ of trail riding through farmland and spectacular scenery late last month.
The chance to ride over farmland is the appeal of the Kuratau Community Trail Ride.
The Kuratau Community Trail Ride is a major fundraiser for the 70-student local school, the local playgroup and the community hall, says Kuratau School principal Craig McGregor.
“This is a great community event where everyone gets together to make it work.”
Craig says students, teachers and parents play a big part in the organisation and promotion of the event which is only made possible by the generous support of the managers, trustees and staff of Moerangi, Oraukura, Rangiatea, Waituhi Kuratau and Te Aputa Stations who allow those taking part to ride across their land.
“It takes a lot of work by the station staff to mark out the tracks and move stock before the ride. They also help out marshalling and rescuing bikes which have got stuck, or crashed,” says Craig.
And while 800 bikes cause damage to the pasture, the event organisers assist with re-instatement where possible.
“This year tracks had been softened by rain, creating perfect conditions for riders,” says Craig.
“However, last year we didn’t hold the ride because the stations had been hard hit by the drought. They couldn’t afford to have what little pasture was left damaged by riders.”
Downers Group staff assisted with traffic management when riders crossed the state highway.
While there were plenty of spills, and St John Ambulance staff and paramedics were on hand, only one participant suffered a suspected fractured leg.
“The only other major injury was a man who chopped off two fingers when loading a bike onto its transport at the end of the day,” says Craig.
The Kuratau Trail ride began 15 years ago with about 40 locals taking part.
Word of the ride spread and now riders on two-wheel and four-wheel ATVs come from throughout the North Island to ride during two days, on two 40km loop tracks, or shorter but more challenging double A and triple A loop tracks.
Craig says funds from this year’s event will be used to employ extra teacher aids and teaching staff and buy IT equipment for the school, equipment for the playgroup, and improvements to the hall.
“The event is also good for Turangi, as most people stay in the area for the weekend.”