North Face/ Smokin/ JFK Blog

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  • 10 Aug 2012 5:07 PM | Makara Peak Supporters (Administrator)

    Smokin received a fair bit of TLC last weekend, so the first third is is in pretty good condition :D The last two thirds are on our 'to do shortly' list.

    The wee track is in a wet valley, which still had plenty of running water 30 hours after the last decent rainfall.

    Anyway I ventured in to make sure the new work was solid and well packed for the weekend, as tracks take the most beating when we have a sunny day on the weekend after a lot or rain.

    A few spots where the riding surface had been compacted were armored with rocks. These were then bashed gently into place with a sledgehammer. Then a smoothing layer of sticky cake-mix added to the surface to bind it all together.

    What looks like a cow pat with the camera flash is the new surface from today:

    There are lots of these but they do not make rivetting photography.

    Further along is the new roller, born just last weekend. A little more armored rock in the upslope..

    The first switchback is in excellent condition: wet but grippy but please DO NOT SLIDE on this surface.

    Just before and after this corner sees a fair bit of fresh water running across the track and down the valley - which it is handling quite well.

    The area before the second switchback is now draining nicely thanks to the work done last weekend. Win!

    It has become a little rocky at the entry so I adjusted this a little with the sledgehammer and removed a few weeds.

    This should make the high entry line a lot more usable for those who fling themselves left to turn right:!!

    What’s next?

    Depuddling North Face on Sunday from 10.15am.

     If you can drop by on Sunday to lend a hand please do, as there are lots of puddles on North Face in wet weather.  They may dry up quickly however they do damage the track and soak the riders.

    Lunch, tools, laughs L&P and bikkies all provided,



    Makara Peak Tracks

  • 05 Aug 2012 7:00 PM | Makara Peak Supporters (Administrator)

    Saturday was fine and pretty nice for winter and the aim was to spread the special sticky “cake mix” stuff on Smokin.

    This stuff looks like gravel, but dries nice and hard- creating an almost permanent surface.

    Smokin in in a wettish valley under trees,  so it does suffer a little from the damp. In it’s favour is that the soil is naturally rocky, and there is little gorse and barberry until the end!

    Ranger Paulo helped deliver the Power Barrow, and work party newcomer (to Makara Peak at least) Matt had a crack at piloting the beast. This thing can carry 250 kilos at a time. Just as we were getting up to speed it had a minor seizure, so it was back to the arm stretching wheelbarrow.

    Cheers to Dave from Mud's Cycles for dropping by with a few beers for the old guys at lunchtime !

    After eating our Mk1 ham-salad sandwiches, and more and more L&P,  we managed to metal about 95m of this short track- up to and around the first switchback. Puddles were demolished and a new roller appeared.

    How did that happen?

    Some clearing was done and things are looking good.

    This stuff will take a few days to pack right down and solidify, and as it does so we will make sure it is reasonably smooth, as today’s traffic may have packed it unevenly. Even a relatively wide trail often has a riding surface (the “tread”)  of only a few centimetres.

    The photos did not work well when taken after 5.. however you can see that we used well over an entire truckload on the track !!


    Big thank you to Ranger Paulo, Matt, Jono and Colin for their efforts :D

    Smokin’ is a better track as a result!





  • 02 Aug 2012 6:56 PM | Makara Peak Supporters (Administrator)

    It is not very often that much work can be done during the week, however today was such a day.

    A Kango hammer was rented to attack a few rocky places on North Face, with Don and Mark drilling holes in rock and providing piles of stones and gravel to armor the track, fill in puddles and generally make a great deal of noise. Ear goggles were a necessity.

    The first corner receiving The Treatment was a right hander half way down (or up) North Face. You know the one, with a suddenly tightening line and fresh air over the side.

    The entry..

    and the way out..

    It is now much more friendly, - especially the gradient and the approach, which is now much less steep and rocky. While Don and Mark jack hammered away I fixed one or two things, wiped the dust of leaves and made sure the worms were happy.

    And then Mark and I were off to meet with the Wellington City Council, and upon our return Don had transformed another corner- the first left hand switchback at the top of the valley.

    The entry is a lot wider and smoother:

    And then it goes like this. A huge improvement!

    The downhill exit..

    and finally:

    Once again this has far less gradient heading into the bend, and the ruts have gone.  Both of these corners will benefit from some retaining in the not too distant future.

    Next up was the narrow part of North Face very near the end: where tremendously hard rock had prevented the track being proper width.

    The edge was also falling away and could catch the unwary. This is a problem no more :-)

    Feast your eyes..

    The track looks very different to before.

    And much, much wider too.

    And over the crest we now have..

    And finally...

    So huge changes to this part of North Face!

    Huge thanks to Mark for picking up and dropping off the Kango Hammer, and for Don who delivered the beast up and down North Face with the evil Power Barrow!

    So what is next?  We have a Smokin Dig Day scheduled for Saturday.

    As in 2 days’ time. 

    This dig needs a delivery of special sticky gravel, so if this does not arrive in time we will be de-puddling North Face.

    Please keep an eye on our website and/or Facebook to see where Saturday is happening,



    Makara Peak Tracks !!

  • 30 Jun 2012 2:09 PM | Makara Peak Supporters (Administrator)

    A quick ride of North Face this early this morning revealed the track surface to be very good.

    Riding nicely and with great visibility where vegetation clearing work had recently been done.

    There are still a few puddles, and there were plenty of signs of a great deal of water having washed across the track recently. This means 95% of the drainage is working well and there is still a little more work to be done.

    The lower half is in need of spraying and clearing, so I would recommend wearing gloves and eye protection to keep the gorse prickles at bay for the moment.  Please remember that almost all this vegetation trimming work is done by volunteers, so please help out if you can !

    The recent berming of the corners in the valley of switchbacks makes them a lot less precarious in the rain, at least for this rider ..

    SO this morning the track was much widened and smoothed before the blind right hand corner that drops into the roller coaster.


    It is now a lot more like this:


    And after the downhill part of the “roller coaster” more widening and clearing of vegetation was done. This brings the track back to the full width of when it was built two years back:



    And then the patch by the big scary rock was cleaned up as well..

    Not the best photo, however I was trying to keep the misty rain off the lens.

    Trimming and de-puddling is not done yet, so please check our website if you would like to lend a hand, even for a short while. It all adds up, and keeping tracks clear and dry even in mid-winter is something that we are always striving for.

    And tomorrow, for those who could be interested in helping out with regenerating native forest at Makara Peak, we have a planting day.

    More info right here -->





  • 10 Jun 2012 7:56 PM | Makara Peak Supporters (Administrator)

    It was a fine and fresh day in Wellington today, and we were up on North Face 350m above sea level to apply some TLC.

    Our initial aim was to keep cleaning up the track from where we left off 2 weeks back. This is mostly just clearing the vegetation from the embankments and track edges - which suddenly makes the current track so much wider.

    This also cuts back on the track surface wear consiiderably, which is a great thing to do especially before Winter.

    Some of the new work had a very slimy surface (heaps of rain does that) so some time was spent hardening the surface with rocks. Although slightly rough to ride right now, this will all pack down nicely.

    A decent chunk of the track after the ridge corner was cleaned up and it now looks super fast and a lot different.

    Hopefully with one or two more days work most of North face can be to this standard.  

    A round of applause please for the following people who helped out today:

    Mark, Martin, Luke, Simon, Luca, Stefan, James and Rob… track maintenance is essential and these dig days made a huge difference.

    For Simon, Luca and James this was their first track digging session, and Luke came along in spite of doing paid track work elsewhere the day before. Well done all, your work is very valuable and much appreciated !!

    A picture is apparently worth a thousand words, so here are a few thousand of them - starting with photos of the work done 2 weeks back:

    here is the clearing done on the way to the first corner..

    And in to the second corner.


    And then past the Cabbage tree plunging through the Manukas:

    Here the track was widened considerably, as it was becomig rutted and nasty:

    This part of the track is now also wider and better able to withstand the huge number of riders:

    And the following part of the track was widened two weeks back, (and a tasty berm with jumpable roller added)  and today it recieved a fresh layer of hard rock to help it pack down:

    Next up is a straightish levelish bit where most people rush past the tall Cabbage Tree which was cleaned up last time also. Zoom zoom.

    And then we have more of the nice wide smooth track work done 2 weeks back:

    And from there , where the track drops downwards in a potentially very speedy way..once again much wider, more usable and smoother.

    And now leaping ahead 50 metres to the ridge corner. As the hard rock weathers we just keep chipping away at the bank, and then adding the rock to the edge. This is gradually creating a bermed corner of mostly solid rock.

    The exit was also worked on, so now it is far better at saving people who do not get it quite right...or simply ride very quickly !!

    The run out of that corner received the widening treatment today. The difference is hard to see here, but is obvious when there on foot or bike:

    And then a litte further along:

    The track then pops out of the vegetation and heads towards the corner at the top of the "roller coaster". This does get some hard use, as it is quite steep and was smoothed out last time. It also has a typical Wellington view in the background:

    And the corner itself is looking pretty good these days. Once again the berm is being built up, and the bank cut back as the rocks weather.

    There were plenty of other details worked on, and a good example is this one where a berm was built up with a small jump off the top edge for those who like to get air time. This launches them over the gap needed to drain this bend. So now the track in this spot is wider, drains better and caters to the thrillseekers .

    There is also some interesting stuff just around that bend..

    Why so many photos? 

    To show how much half a dozen volunteers can do over two days.

    If we had had twice the number of people, well we could have improved this track twice as much :-)

    Please do not run over the track workers by the way, they are doing things to make your ride better.

    And if digging is not your thing, please help out by dropping a coin or two into our collection post by the shelter in the car park. Makara Peak is free but it does cost money to keep in good ridable condition.

    Your cash would help pay for volunteer lunches and any contract work that we can afford to have done.



    Makara Peak Tracks  !!

  • 26 May 2012 4:56 PM | Makara Peak Supporters (Administrator)

    A bunch of people turned up today to tinker with the top part of North Face.

    Huge thank-you and a round of applause to Mark, James, Colin, Stefan, Luke, Lewis, Gordon, Ollie, Nick and Rob for their work today.


    The top 400 or so metres of this track are now back to their original width (so it appears much wider than recently) and a lot of bits which were getting rutted etc were fixed so they would be OK through the coming evilness of Winter.


    So for those of you who prefer a relaxed pace visibility is much improved, the chance of getting shredded by prickly scrub greatly diminished and the surface is smoother.


    The pinners amongst you will be able to go at tremendous speed with little braking, and the silent majority will simply have more fun. Or so we hope !

    We were planning to migrate down to JFK in the afternoon, however much good work was done on North Face itself, so we just kept at it.


    At this point I would normally write my way through a pile of thrilling photos, however my camera was not playing ball today. 

    Without the support of stunning imagery, all I can do is suggest you go ride this track: that is what it is for  :-)



  • 19 May 2012 8:32 PM | Makara Peak Supporters (Administrator)

    North Face has been around for a few years now, although the track builders still clearly remember the construction. What a beast!

    The sheer number of people riding the track these days is amazing, and their skinny tires do wear the track, and the greenery grows into the sun.


    So our Mission (which we chose to accept) as do to some clearing and sort out the areas that tend towards getting rutted. Winter is coming, as we do not want to see this popular track in a mess!


    Martin Luke and Rob arrived at the top end, while Gordon dropped in to the valley way below. The high altitude crew cleared some grass, and then smoothed the first switchback which was getting rough and nasty, especially when wet.

    So now it is a lovely thing, and it is smooth and much nicer to navigate.


    The second corner got the same treatment, and it now looks like this:


    The rollers beyond were slightly tweaked, then our work began in earnest. The next part of the track is deliberately narrow, as it weaves through the Manukas. A couple of places were getting quite chopped up, and ruts were forming next to a rock, which had been left as a feature.


    Lots of packing smoothing and widening fixed this, as did the removal of the rock.

    Smoothness where there was none before:

    No more ruts:


    Much of the upper edge had been grown over by our old enemies: grass, Barberry and Gorse, so it was sliced off and flung over the side to grow elsewhere.


    Liberating the rock, and skilled use of a sledgehammer, enabled us to make an option line where the thrillseekers can loft themselves into space. The rest of us can ride the existing track which is wider and smoother than before.


    You will also spot a random roller just before there, which will add a new upward dimension to this part of the track.


    Further along we reached the area of Much Drainage a few years back, and so the grass etc was cleared up again and the track rebuilt to it’s original width.

    Thrilling track photo:


    And what do we have here a little further along? A piece of  sculpted track, all the better to un-weight the bike and perhaps take flight.


    Anyway that was about it for the top of North Face today. Tweaking and maintaining track is so much faster than building new ones, so I wonder why more people do not have a go. Instant gratification for all !


    Further along, way way down in the valley of switchbacks, Gordon has added some retaining to the exit of another corner. This is the 4th one (at least) that he has fixed so far.

    They now ride sweetly for the tentative and the brave, and should stay in place for a long time.

    It was nice to see so many smiling faces as people rode by today. Cool/coldish weather, but at least North Face is well out of the Winter southerlies.


    Huge cheers to Martin for providing the much needed transport today- getting the tools and supplies up to North Face by the summit is not an easy thing  :D

    Happy Trails


    Makara Peak Tracks

  • 28 Apr 2012 7:41 PM | Makara Peak Supporters (Administrator)

    Recently North Face has been receiving some attention :-)

    Three switchbacks have had their lower outer edges made a whole lot more permanent than before. This means the track will no longer erode (needing constant attention better spent elsewhere) and, just as importantly, the corners are more fun for all to ride.

    Some other parts of the track have had scrub cut back and the surface cleaned up as well. This is a very good thing, as the weather is about to turn to a thing called Autumn, which is really Winter only marginally warmer.

    Here are some photoze for those who have not “ liked” Makara Peak on Facebook. (How could you not do this!)

    A corner:

    Another corner:

    And one more corner:

    I suspect another corner or two might be in for similar treatment soon !

    Huge thanks to Gordon and Charlotte for their work on these .

    In other news we will be heading back to both JFK and Smokin once the special sticky gravel arrives - we shall keep you posted




  • 09 Apr 2012 4:35 PM | Makara Peak Supporters (Administrator)
    Way back in the mists of time (try 2.5 years..) when we were putting together the route for North Face we realised that we could build a useful link from there to Ridgeline at one point where they are quite close.

    Meanwhile we went and did other things (Actually building North Face, then Smokin, then JFK, improving Livewires and Ridgeline extension, maintaining existing tracks, starting new ones by the Summt, that kind of thing)..

    So today we set about building a "pilot track", which means clearing gorse and barberry so we can see where it might go.

    Huge thanks to Jono, Chelsea, Luke and Lewis for making this happen on this lovely sunny day :-) :-)

    Things went well, and it is now ready for our WCC Rangers to check out and if we have done our homework well, give the thumbs up!

    Prior to today the area had been scouted with our Conservation guys, and only 1 small flax bush looked to be at risk as far as significant natives were concerned. This proved to be the case and is good news as the general area has had lots of planting over the years.

    Now with any luck a lot of this will end up shading this new link track one day :-)

    So all being well riders can trundle down North Face to half way (about 850m) and then deviate right just before the existing switchback. A short climb (about 20m long) then they will dive down then up, to level out and cruise to a left hand switchback.

    This corner with its open downhill exit has been designed to drop them at some speed onto Ridgeline at a very shallow angle to easily merge with the Pinners blasting down the hill. Visitibility is excellent, and we willl build a small step down at the merge point.

    Riders will then travel the interesting and steepish bits of Ridgeline.

    From there they can of course hoon/cruise along Ridgeline extension, or turn left up the road to JFK. Or, tackle the road. One day in years hence they may have other choices at this point as well.. but that is another story for another year!

    And so to the happy snaps:

    but no, here is a map, showing the approximate arrangement of things..

    And here is the start.. North Face swerves left, and the Link goes straight ahead, uphill:

    And along the small rise it currently looks like this, as massive amounts of gorse and barberry (both introduced pests) have been reduced to mere stumps:

    And then the pilot track swoops downwards (it could have been straight, flat and just..boring so into the dip it is to be.)

    and from the bottom of the dip the track rises, avoiding the natives on the right, and going through more of the barberry on the left.....

    Once back on the level it is about 30 metres to the switchback, where Chelsea is standing:

    This is the point where the track will turn left, and point riders downhill towards Ridgline, to merge at a small angle.

    Here is the view from Ridgeline, looking back up the tracks:

    So thats about it as far a piloting the link went.

    A little further up Ridgeline Jono and Chelsea got stuck in to cutting back some huge flax bushes by the step-down. This was a large job and now the track is wide and vision is good- unlike before!

    And here is it looking back up the Ridgeline:

    And then time for a drink!

    And homeward bound!  Luke and Lewis pinning North Face...

    What's next? This coming weekend we will most likely be heading up to Summit track Number 1, so watch this web site for news on that one!




  • 30 Jan 2012 5:56 PM | Makara Peak Supporters (Administrator)

    On Sunday we went out to tinker on JFK, armed with special sticky gravel supplies by the WCC Parks and Gardens, to armour this swoopy flowy track.

    The idea was to look for any areas that might suffer from wear or water in the future, and fix them before these problems appear.

    We started on the very first corner- the left hand switchback right by the road. 

    Weeds and grass were cleared and this special mix was packed into the top of the berm to resist erosion, and to keep the vegetation at bay.

    The gravel and rocks that were rolling about the inside of the turn were also removed, so the track is smooth, wide and grippy :-)

    Examining the rollers and high and low bits further along showed that the drainage is working well- with no sign of impending ruts or softening of the hard clay surface. So we moved on until we met the left hand sweeping bend around the ridge. The blind thrilling one with the decent drop over the edge!

    This is not a corner a person would want to fall off, as they would auger through the stunted gorse and hit the track way below. Not nice.

    So we decided to both armour the outer edge and also bank the corner more.

    The embankment has previously been cut back so there is plenty of elbow room, and the new work really is a thing of beauty. The guys did a superb job!

    Here is a pic of the berm:


    And it being tsensibly ridden:

    From there we wandered towards the humungous switchback checking the drainage etc and found there was nothing needed, which was great. The track is doing well!

    Not wanting to put a hard cement-like surface on the big bowled switchback, we reinforced the top of the exit berm to keep it nice and solid.

    Here the stuff is being packed down from the lower end of the berm up the hill :

    The sticky gravel may not look like much, however it is a special formulation which is almost like wet cement full of sharp stones. When it dries out it is pale grey:

    And here testing the new edge. Solid as !

    Once that was done, time was spent weeding around the natives which had been recently planted, and cleaning the track and generally poking about.

    There are still a few things that we can do for this awesome track, however it is awesome anyway !!

    Huge thanks to Gordon, Rob, Arthur, Adam, and Gareth. :D

    Without them, this would not have happened !


    Makara Peak Tracks

    *next weekend dig: North Face !!

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