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Milk those opportunities
28 August 2015

I’ve just had a holiday (lucky me) in Hong Kong which has a city area about half the size of Tauranga but with 3.5 million people.

Not the natural capital of the multisport world and not the capital of the natural world either.

But it’s surprisingly green and outdoor sport is on a growth curve.

HK the country is 70% covered in vegetation with just 3% of its 7.2 million people living in around 1000 square km of rural area.

So it has the contrast of super-packed city areas  and a surprisingly large amount of forest and bush.

We travelled towards the Chinese border for the latter and spent a rather hot day hiking gently around the edge of an estuary and then up over a ridge across the headland before getting a ride back to the city from the other side.

Our trip of maybe 7km was pretty similar to the many that can be undertaken around the Bay of Plenty during the summer months, with many of the plants looking quite familiar even if they weren’t exactly the same.

We encountered no more people that you would expect to see on Nga Tapuwae o Toi at Whakatane and far fewer than is usual walking from Waihi Beach to Orokawa Bay.

As you might guess with these kinds of facilities, trail running is a growing sport in Hong Kong and the country features a sister-event on the Ultra trail running calendar with our own Tarawera Ultra Marathon.

Sadly that’s about where the multisport comparison stops.

Although there’s hundreds of thousands of bicycles in HK, sport cycling (mountain-biking or road race) is virtually non-existent.

We rode a cycle trail from Tai Po to Tai Mei Tuk, a distance of about 20km on (mainly) red paving.

Every type of bike known to man was using the trail; from folding bikes with tiny wheels to hardcore carbon fibre mountain and road bikes and even a recumbent road tricycle.

With the mix of bikes, riders and abilities there was also not much chance of hitting any more than 20kmh.

While many were clearly “into” bikes the reality is the cycleway is really the only place for them to ride so sport cycling hasn’t taken off yet.

The picture was similar with watersport as well with some very limited facilities for rowing and just a few hire catamarans at a resort area at the end of the cycleway.

Given the number of supertankers, ferries, dhows and other vessels plying the coastline it’s not really surprising.

While that’s the reality in Hong Kong today I am absolutely certain it will change for the better.

If there’s one thing they are really good at it is making extraordinary things happen – try a 45km four-lane bridge to Macau for starters! - and the fun-run posters in the underground rail station are a good illustration that there’s a growing awareness and engagement with outdoor sports.

Better facilities will follow.

In the meantime, it was a sharp reminder of how good we’ve got it here in the Bay of Plenty.

Our weather is mild, the trails are great and there are loads of events to choose from - get out and milk the opportunities while you can.

This post was written by

Steve Brightwell - who has written 17 posts

Steve Brightwell is a partnership ranger with the Department of Conservation.

He has been a part of the Virtually On Track team from the project's inception.

Steve lives in the Eastern Bay of Plenty, has a communications background, and is a weekend warrior of modest multisport ability.

The views he expresses for this blog are his own and do not necessarily reflect or imply official policy of the Department of Conservation.

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