Queenstown mountain bikers rally to save Gorge Road Bike Park

A billionaire and mountain biking champions are shoulder to shoulder in a fight to save an iconic Queenstown bike park. 

The jumps at Gorge Road Bike Park were built by volunteers, but they're on council land and now the council wants to take it back.

The volunteers who spent almost two decades building it, didn't bother covering it up for winter because Queenstown Lakes District Council was planning to bulldoze it to store construction materials.

"I just was heartbroken that I spent my heart and soul for over 20 years on multiple facilities in this town, hoping for them all to become reserves and amazing spaces for the community, and they were stepping on the most famous one," says the park's founder Nathan Greenwood.

Greenwood is the driving force behind Gorge Road, building the jumps by hand over many years.

He rallied the community who threw its support behind him, forcing the council to delay the bulldozers by three weeks.

In the summer season the park is a magnet for pros who come from around the world to ride it.

"Gorge Road is the most iconic dirt jump spot in the world, riders come from all over to just ride it every year," says jump rider Billy Meaclem.

The park is also an incubator for young new biking talent.

"When everybody's down here riding, there's a majestic power to the place, everybody's just alive - young and old," says Greenwood.

"If somebody does something new everybody's supportive like 'hell yeah'."

The council gives the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club $20,000 a year to support its whole network of trails and infrastructure, though Greenwood says Gorge Road gets a fraction of that.

But now a Kiwi billionaire is weighing in.

Xero founder and keen mountain biker Rod Drury says people who don't understand biking don't appreciate that building a park like this takes a decade. He says it would be a shame to lose such an important asset to biking in Queenstown.

Former Queenstown Lakes District Council councillor Alexa Forbes says it's a tricky situation when the community makes a huge investment in a piece of land owned by council.

"It needs to be saved because what the bike park has done is create a facility that is magnificent and really high value to a sector of the community, and the tourism sector, and what the council want to use the land for is of much less value."

The council says it hasn't made a decision on Gorge Road's future, but on Monday it did send out a press release saying the downtown Ballarat car park was to be closed at the start of August to store construction materials - giving hope to Greenwood and his supporters that the park might be saved.

"I hope it can stay, realistically. They've got a plan for a new spot but if they bowl it right now and start on the new spot, the scene will be dead for the next couple of years," Greenwood says.

Mayor Jim Boult told Newshub he was "a little bit surprised" by the situation and concerns over the park's future, "because when we were first approached, we agreed to reconsider it".

"Everyone's got their knickers in a knot over this," he said.

"A transaction was agreed between the bike club and council some time ago - like a couple of years ago - to relocate the bike park elsewhere...They have approached us, asked for reconsideration, and we're currently doing that. And I'm pretty confident we can leave the bike park alone."