Trail Fund NZ is a not-for-profit organisation that has been set up in 2013 to help fund the development and maintenance of trails all around New Zealand.
It appears the land of perfect singletrack needs more of it because the goal for Trail Fund NZ is to raise awareness and support for trail building among the wider community, such as businesses, councils, community groups, and other public bodies.
One of the group’s ambassadors is XC Olympian turned enduro racer, Rosara Joseph. The well-liked racer hoped the national body, with proper governance structures and an identifiable brand, would be able to access funding from a wide range of organisations.
“We also want to share knowledge and experience about best practice for trail building and advocacy,” she said.
Trail Fund NZ expects everyone to benefit from more trail networks of a higher standard along with an increased awareness of advocacy for mountain biking and the development of trails.
“Mountain biking is hugely popular in New Zealand and is continuing to grow, but it is unique in that we largely build and maintain our own facilities,” Rosara offers.
“We want to build not just sustainably-built trails, but awareness and recognition that deserves to go with them.”
Rosara has raced throughout Europe and North America and lived in the UK for a period of five years and she believes New Zealand has a unique mountain biking proposition.
“I enjoyed some fantastic trails in all of those places. However, I think that New Zealand is special in that trail building, and mountain biking in general, has widespread community and political support. That’s a big difference compared with, for example, the UK (where I spent nearly five years), where mountain biking and the building of mountain bike trails are both really difficult to get support for. I think New Zealand is also unique in that the past 10 years or so has seen an explosion of purpose-built mountain biking trails throughout the country.”
She said New Zealand riders were also very lucky to have great trails so close to and amongst the cities and towns.
“I doubt there are many capital cities where you can commute nearly right to your office via off road trails! In contrast to the established tracks in Europe and the US, many of which are existing hiking tracks that become shared tracks, many of the trails we ride here in NZ are purpose-built mountain bike trails. So, in a sense, I think most mountain bikers in NZ have more awareness of the time and effort that has gone into building the trails they ride on.”
Want to get involved in Trail Fund NZ? Visit trailfund.org.nz to buy a cool t-shirt, donate some money to the fund, apply for a grant to contribute to a trail building project you’re involved in and, of course, you can dig.
For Rosara, who is about to jump on a plane to begin her season racing and riding in Oregon and Colorado, with a couple of trips to Whistler, BC, and Utah also planned, the decision to support Trail Fund NZ was simple:
“I love mountain biking,” she smiles. “I hugely appreciate the efforts of those who have dedicated time and energy to building and maintaining the tracks that I ride, and I thought that helping out with Trail Fund NZ is one way I can support their stellar efforts.”