It has been quite a ride, but all things must come to an end. Please find below a media release announcing the end of Wānaka Trail Ride.
MEDIA RELEASE FROM WĀNAKA TRAIL RIDE
October 27, 2023.
Wānaka Trail Ride says farewell
After seven successful trail rides over nine years, Wānaka Trail Ride has announced it’s time to hit the brakes on its much-loved backcountry event.
Wānaka Trail Ride committee member and tracks manager Phil Pendlebury says the event will not take place in 2024 as two of the three farms where the ride is held are now unable to provide access.
“Without suitable terrain, we can’t deliver the quality of riding that Wānaka Trail Ride is known for. So, this is the end of the event as far as we can see,” Pendlebury says. “The appeal of Wānaka Trail Ride is that while it’s a great ride for young and novice riders, it is renowned for offering technical trails for advanced riders.”
Since its establishment in 2015, led by Wānaka locals Carrie Wallis and Nicolle Masters, the Wānaka Trail Ride has grown to become an annual highlight, attracting 600-800 riders each year from around Otago and Southland. Originally planned to run for just three years, the ride’s popularity saw it last much longer, only interrupted by Covid-related cancellations in 2020 and 2022.
Pendlebury says the event’s success was a testament to the generosity of Tarras landowners, the Nyhon family and Simon Maling and Lucy Annan, who open their properties to hundreds of trail bikes each year and facilitate the delivery of an experience that is loved by riders of all ages and abilities.
“We thought we’d do it for a few years but it has exceeded everybody’s expectations and people just love it.”
Often referred to as the ‘ANZAC ride’, the Wānaka Trail Ride has raised $180,000 over the years, with funds split between Wānaka Primary School and Montessori Children’s House Wānaka, plus contributions made to the RSA Appeal and Tarras School.
Dr Wendy Bamford, principal of Wānaka Primary School, expressed her gratitude for the ride, saying, “Wānaka Primary School is extremely grateful to the Wānaka Trail Ride committee for their expert running of this incredible event. The funds raised have significantly contributed to improving our school facilities, thus enriching the learning experience for our students.”
The funds raised for Wānaka Primary School have contributed to various projects, including the playscape project, an outdoor fitness trail, soccer field turf, landscaping, and the purchase of school vans. At Montessori Children’s House Wānaka, funds have been allocated to initiatives like the bike and pram shed, solar panels, an outdoor bambini area, and a kitchen and bathroom revamp.
While the end of the ride brings mixed emotions for the Wānaka Trail Ride committee, they have always known it wouldn’t last forever.
Wānaka Trail Ride chairperson Alix Wilson extends her heartfelt thanks to all involved. “A lot of work goes into an event like this, particularly when you want to deliver fun and adventure while keeping everyone safe. We have incredible people in our community who each year volunteer critical skills like safety, track marshalling, course setting and operations.
“We are hugely grateful to these volunteers as well as our sponsors, the committee team and, of course, our incredible landowners. And we want to thank all the riders, many of whom return year after year. The ride has been an incredible experience for us all.
“The Wānaka Trail Ride will be remembered as a community-driven success story. The committee extends its gratitude to participants, sponsors, supporters, and previous committee members who made this remarkable journey possible.”
Although the Wānaka Trail Ride will not take place in 2024, the committee is open to the possibility of reviving the event if an alternative suitable property is found near Wānaka.