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Sanders Reserve: Family Fun

August 2, 2011
Sanders Reserve Summit

Visitors Centre up at the highest point.

A rare sunny day spurred me into action and I packed-up the mountainbikes and drove over to Sanders Reserve to get the kids out of the house. It took a very convenient 20 minutes door-to-door from my home in Campbells Bay – that’s less time that it takes me loading bikes and children into the car!

Before setting-out I gave the Council a ring to see if the park was officially open. The phonebot eventually put me through to a human-being and we established that yes, the park was open but I couldn’t get anything more out of them. This park should have it’s own page on the Council website, Shore riders are crying-out for information!

Sanders Carpark

With zero publicity you won't have trouble finding a parking spot.

So Sanders Reserve is (finally) open, although to my knowledge it’s never been “officially opened” if you know what I mean. After spending all that cash and ruffling so many local feathers I would have fried some snarlers and blown up a few balloons myself, maybe that’s coming when things warm-up a little in Spring?

With this total lack of promotion you’ll have no trouble finding a parking space, the place was virtually deserted on this beautiful if somewhat chilly afternoon. I spotted two other families out on bikes and there were a couple of groups simply walking with their children or dogs around the trails.

Sanders Kids Loop 2

Thing-One and Thing-Three on the Kids Loop.

My five year old had lost a little confidence as with two months of almost constant rain there hasn’t been much riding lately. She started out very grumpy with Dad and quite tentative on the loose surface but after half an hour of stop/start frustration had found her mojo and was really enjoying the Kids Loop. This section winds around the top of the hill beside the Visitors Centre and a school-age rider should manage the mostly flat terrain without pushing.

Hunter Climbing at Sanders Reserve

Thing-Two climbing with Whenuapai in the distance.

While I was stuck up top with little-miss my ten and thirteen year old boys careered-off down the hill in search of adventure. They found it apparently, and it was covered in mud! Take some old towels in the car to sit on if you are coming out in winter. The clay-base cuts-up with a lot of rain and there are also patches of standing water here and there.

Totara Loop

In search of mud on the Totara Loop.

The signage needs improvement. It’s not obvious you are going the wrong way at times and this will be dangerous when there are more people about. The trail directions are marked on the large map by the carpark but I saw precious little other signage in the reserve.

So another visit to Sanders and I still didn’t get to ride the completed trails in anger (I’ll leave the five-year-old at home next time). The park shows a lot of promise and I think it will be a success in the long term if they keep the trails in good order. It still has a weird feel about it though. Some of the trails have strange layouts with little “flow” and the place could do with some more trees. You feel like you are riding around a farm at times and not that long ago you would have been, so that is understandable. In fifteen years time there’ll be some respite from the sun and wind if they get planting now.

As it stands it’s still a fun place to visit to stretch those legs and get some fresh air without driving too far out of town. If you live in Albany or the Bays you could even ride there!

Trail-map at the carpark.

Previous posts on Sanders Reserve:
Great Rides: Sanders Reserve Mountainbike Park
Great Rides: Sanders Reserve – Revisited

12 Comments leave one →
  1. August 9, 2011 12:05 pm

    Thanks for the update :-)
    One of my mates was out there at the weekend with his son and school chum. He also said it was very muddy in places and that made it difficult.
    It’s a bit like they forgot to actually finish it all off really??
    Just can’t understand the lack of publicity? Are all the facilities in the visitors centre open??

    • August 9, 2011 1:00 pm

      It will dry-out in spring. If they want it to be “family-friendly” all year round the (clay-based) trails will need better drainage and more maintenance.

      The toilets are open at the “visitors centre”. I don’t know what plans they have for the kitchen area.

  2. Mark permalink
    August 26, 2011 10:24 pm

    Decided to break from my usual royal albany and woodhill, rode from home in Browns Bay and had a good look at it!
    Looks like some more signage has gone in, it was well marked today where entry and exit points are, the trails need more riding to bed them in but was a good 45km stretch of the legs!

  3. Lynette permalink
    January 29, 2015 10:08 am

    Hi there can I hire the sanders reserve visitors centre for a 5th birthday party? What is the cost?


    • January 29, 2015 10:16 am

      You’ll have to contact the council Lynette. Would make a great venue for a kids party.

      • steph permalink
        March 9, 2015 4:36 pm

        Did u have any luck getting hold of someone to hire out the kitchen area? Phoned council today and they had no idea what i was talking about

        • March 9, 2015 11:48 pm

          Try calling the Council again and asking to speak to the parks officer for the Paremeremo area. Sorry I don’t know what else to recommend.

          • Michelle permalink
            July 30, 2015 1:10 pm

            Did anyone have any luck trying to find out who owns the building at Sanders Reserve. I tried last year to find out but didn’t have any luck. Would love to hire the kitchen room for a birthday party?

  4. Chris permalink
    September 29, 2015 5:22 pm

    Hi all! Just found the park for the first time today, it’s definitely a well kept secret!
    I too would love to know if anyone was successful in hiring the “visitor centre” building… More specifically for a wedding! Has anyone actually been inside and seen what there is? Cheers.

  5. jessica permalink
    January 12, 2017 6:52 pm

    Hi all does anyone know who to contact re hire for sanders reserve centre for a venue?


    • January 19, 2017 12:11 pm

      I gave up on this after two frustrating calls to the Council. The holy grail will be found before the keys to that building ;^)

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