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All aboard for a rail bike adventure

Eight years have gone into the planning, negotiations and designs.

Now engineer Geoff Main’s brainchild, Gisborne Railbike Adventure is finally ready to hit the tracks.

As GRA riders will experience, their Universal Engineering -designed-and-built bicycles are lightweight and yoked together to be ridden side-by-side on railway lines.

The adventure tourism activity opens to the general public on Boxing Day but before the summer tourism explosion arrives, Mr Main is offering Gisborne and East Coast people the opportunity to be among the first to have a go at greatly discounted prices.

Gizzy Locals Week offers a one-hour return ride from the Awapuni Road-Macdonald Road to Browns Road, Muriwai at $30 a head.

From Monday to Sunday next week, railbike rides are available at 9am, 11am, 1pm and 3pm.

Bookings are essential and can be made at Gisborne i-Site. The minimum age is 10 and under 18 year olds must be accompanied by an adult.

When GRA opens to the public on December 26, adventurers will meet at the Awapuni Road-Macdonald Road corner to be shuttled to Muriwai where their rail bikes await them.

Once on the track, the seven-kilometre, three-to-four-hour excursion (including breaks) through a bush-clad valley leads to a curving 1.4-kilometre tunnel before rail bikers burst into green scenery and big views of the Pacific Ocean 140 metres below.

The first leg of the adventure stops at Beach Loop where riders dismount for lunch, “ooh-aah” panoramas and photographs.

Mr Main is organising the delivery of pre-ordered lunches to riders at Beach Loop.

Once fed and refreshed, riders can turn their bikes around and head back to Matawhero Station to be picked up by the shuttle van.

The downhill ride skims through native bush, farmland, across several streams, the Waipaoa plain, through cropping, market garden and vineyard land with the limestone cliffs of Te Kuri a Paoa - Young Nicks Head on the right.

The last stretch of the 28km adventure takes riders across the 500-metre Waipaoa River rail bridge rebuilt after it was destroyed by Cyclone Bola in 1987.

Rail bike excursions will start with up to 20 people a day before upsizing to meet the demands of 30 people a day.

Mr Main also plans summer evening rides that start from the Awapuni Road/Macdonald Road corner.

Meanwhile, Mr Main would like to alert landowners and the public that rail bikers will pass through level crossings at Browns Beach Road, Muriwai Beach Road, Coop Road and Nicks Head.

For full information, maps, video footage and pictures, visit www.railbikes.nz

MAIN TRUNK LINE FOR RAIL BIKES: Engineer and Gisborne Railbike Adventure founder Geoff Main (right) stands by his range of rail bikes that await riders for Monday’s launch. Mounted on the twinned rail bikes are track operators Kerby Coleman (right) and Shoney Grace. Some of the people who made the venture possible are (from left) GRA co-owner Phil Matthews and Universal Engineering workers Lonnie Larby, Tim Brown and Rama Te Are. Absent is Universal Engineering’s Steve Mann who Mr Main said had been a big part of the project over the past eight years. Picture by Liam Clayton