Lockdown taught us to appreciate many things; time spent with family, our healthcare workers, and the little things in life that bring us joy.
It was also a reminder of just how important the great outdoors is for our wellbeing, and how lucky we are in the Western Bay to be surrounded by beautiful beaches, tracks, and bush to enjoy it.
While TECT Park was closed during lockdown, with some restrictions as we moved down the levels, it is now back open – and busier than ever.
TECT Park Operations Manager Bill Wheeler says the Park has never been so busy, with people appreciating recreation close to home.
“Lockdown made people appreciate getting out in the fresh air. For those who thought ‘one day I’ll get a chance to get up there and take a look’, they’re now jumping at the chance after being stuck inside all day and unable to go on holiday. People are actually wanting to do things closer to home.
“Winter is usually a quieter period for us so we could ease off a little on staffing, but this year we have had to continue through winter with a 7-day a week presence which we haven’t done in the past.”
With over 1650ha of all terrain playground, TECT Park is truly a unique spot showcasing everything we love about our region – an expansive environment filled with recreational opportunities.
Located on State Highway 36 between Tauranga and Rotorua, the Park is a major asset for our district and will continue to be enjoyed by our community for generations to come thanks to its fantastic upkeep and wide-ranging facilities.
With public tracks for walking and mountain biking, equestrian trails, an off-leash dog exercise area, a high-wire adventure course and user group facilities for a variety of clubs from paintball to model aircraft flying, the TECT Park has everything you can imagine for outdoor fun.
The Park has had a number of exciting developments in the past year. It was awarded Recreation Aotearoa’s Green Flag Award for the fifth year in a row, and also won the Supreme Green Flag Award – highlighting its standing as one of the best parks in the country.
A new cell phone tower was officially switched on in December last year after many years in the making, ensuring users and motorists who travel through the area can use their mobile phones. A water bore has also been installed, the electricity feeder has been upgraded to meet demand, and a new fire truck has been purchased to service the Park.
Plenty of progress is currently in the works, with additional parking, fencing and roads being developed to make the events space, 5ha of open land, more accessible and able to cater for largescale events.
The Park will also be celebrating its 10th birthday in November with a special event showcasing the user groups and with plenty of family activities.
One of TECT Park’s 12 user groups is the Bay of Plenty Paintball Club. As the only club-owned and operated paintball field in the region, they cater for players of all experience levels, whether playing bush ball in the woods or honing speed ball skills on the field.
TECT funding helped the club develop the site, clearing and levelling the ground, installing a water tank, generator, trailered toilets, 4m high pokes and netting.
River Jermyn, Bay of Plenty Paintball Club Treasurer, says having access to the land at TECT Park is extremely important for the club.
“We feel very fortunate to have such an asset in our region – the land is solely for our use as weekends are high usage at commercial fields. We have also managed to secure a new event series at our field which brings players from all over the North Island.
“We have reliable 4500 psi air fills, and it’s the first purpose-built, club-owned speed ball field in New Zealand. It’s a very central location for Bay of Plenty members and players from wider afield.
Tauranga Motorcycle Club is another group that calls TECT Park home, encouraging active participation in the sport of motocross racing, trials competition and trail riding.
With the help of TECT funding for track development, storage and an irrigation system, the club has continued to see increasing membership and has hosted major events including the Junior Motocross Nationals, and the annual Schools Challenge which attracts school children from all over the country.
“Without the ability to call TECT Park home it is unlikely that the club would have been able to create a track of the calibre that’s been achieved. The large area also allows the club to host events that cater for 300 plus riders and supporters,” says Matt Potton, Tauranga Motorcycle Club Grants Officer.
TECT has been a long-time supporter of the Park, with over $5 million in grants going towards its establishment and development since 2004. Last year, $300,000 was approved towards the infrastructure development over three years.
Bill says without TECT’s support, the Park would never have gotten off the ground.
“TECT’s funding has been absolutely fundamental. It’s an enormous project and to get something like that up and moving – it takes a lot of weight from day one. There’s no way without TECT’s support that the councils would have been able to get it rolling, or if they had, it would have been on a much smaller scale. The scale of TECT Park is one of its biggest successes – there is room for everybody.
“TECT’s latest funding for infrastructure will allow us to be more sustainable and continue to grow. With developing the events space, we will be able to hold multiple events a year for up to 700 people. We will be able to cope with that without everything falling over, like running out of water. It’s about being prepared for the growth that will come.”