10 most-visited mountain biking tracks were in planted forests

Friday 15 Mar 2024


Mountain biking tourism pumps NZ$112 million into the NZ economy each year and employs hundreds.

Planted forests are currently the most important mountain biking destinations in New Zealand, new research has found. As a major driver of activity in the regions, several sectors, including tourism, reap the economic benefits of mountain biking.

In a research project funded by Forest Growers Research, Scion senior research economist Dr Richard Yao and resource economists Julio Botero and Saeed Solaymani looked at the economic value of mountain biking and its wellbeing benefits. They also looked at the role of planted forests compared to other mountain biking destinations.

Yao says, “while the economic benefits derived directly from mountain biking in the forestry sector may be relatively small, the contributions of forestry assets to mountain biking activities are significant”.

As part of the research, carried out in May and June 2023, thousands of mountain bikers were surveyed about where they biked and their relevant spending.

The researchers used an input-output model to assess economic impacts and found mountain biking generated NZ$112.3m. Of this, transport contributed NZ$20.2m from expenses like air travel, petrol, and shuttles. Accommodation made up NZ$17.6m, rental and hire services NZ$16.3m and food and beverage contributed NZ$15.2m.

Retail contributed NZ$12m, manufacturing, professional services, construction, primary manufacturing and financial and insurance contributed a collective NZ$18.9m and other sectors contributed NZ$11.5m. Forestry received NZ$261,000 of economic benefits.

Seven of the 10 most visited local sites were in planted forests, with Whakarewarewa Forest taking the top spot with 36.3% of visitors followed by Wellington’s Mākara Peak (14.8%) and Woodhill in Auckland (10.8%). Four of the 10 most visited sites by distant visitors were planted forests.

Yao says if the other six non-planted forest sites closed this would lead to a wellbeing reduction of NZ$2.6m illustrating the higher contribution planted forests make to the wellbeing of mountain bikers. He says the outcomes from the multi-site travel cost model show that the value of the extra satisfaction derived from visiting the top four planted forest locations surpasses that of visiting the leading six non-planted forest sites.

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Source and image credit: Scion

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