Ngāruawāhia is rebranding itself as the fitness capital of the Waikato.

Victor Yong tries out the River Riders 3G Stepper Bike on the Te Awa Great River Ride Perry Bridge.

The North Waikato town is home to the popular Hakarimata walking track and its infamous 1349 stairs. 

In November last year, the Te Awa Great River Ride Perry Bridge opened, connecting pedestrians to a 70 kilometre cycleway which stretches alongside the river all the way to Horahora.

Mychelle Tomsett, left, and Deborah Scott take Electrify.NZ bikes for a spin.

Mychelle Tomsett, left, and Deborah Scott take Electrify.NZ bikes for a spin.

Now, the town is opening Waikato District's first fitness trail, featuring outdoor gym equipment.

"It's another piece of the puzzle to keeping people active," Waikato District Council mayor Allan Sanson said.

Hakarimata Scenic Reserve.

Hakarimata Scenic Reserve.

"The Hakarimata track and the River Ride are attracting a lot of people – this adds another dimension to that activity status."

The fitness trail will stretch nearly a kilometre along the Waikato Esplanade.

It will feature six fitness stations with outdoor gym equipment, including a bench press, cycle strider, leg press and sit-up bench. 

Reg Hohaia climbs the Hakarimata Summit Track almost every day.

Reg Hohaia climbs the Hakarimata Summit Track almost every day.

A warm-up and stretching station will serve as the start and finish of the trail.

It's a great outcome to a two-year project, Sanson said.

"We are a sporting town.

"If we can build equipment for people to use ... we're all the better for it."

Sanson said Ngāruawāhia is also getting two cafes as a result of its growing reputation as a fitness hub.

Shelly Wilson and Erin Hawes were on the river ride on Monday.

The cycleway has brought so many more people to the town and the fitness trail will do the same, Wilson said. 

"I know of people who go and do bootcamps at lunch, so it will work great," Wilson said.

"It's good for Ngāruawāhia, the town's image is changing."

Hawes lives in Pukekohe, but has discovered the Hakarimata walking track and river ride, after working in Ngāruawāhia.

"It's beautiful to be able to ride along the river and for people riding to work – what a lovely way to start the day," Hawes said.

"I didn't know about the fitness trail, but it's amazing – it's all really positive for the community."

People of all ages want to be able to get outside and exercise, Hawes said. 

The fitness trail will also be beneficial to those who may not be able to afford a gym membership, she said. 

The trail is costing nearly $60,000, which has been fundraised by the Ngāruawāhia Community Board, with support from the WEL Energy Trust, Waikato District Community Wellbeing Trust, Perry Group Ltd, the Ngāruawāhia Community Board and the Ngāruawāhia Lions Club.

Ngāruawāhia is home to a lot of sports clubs and fitness-minded people, community board member Wendy Diamond said.

"This will be a great resource for the community and free for our youth to use," Diamond said.

The official opening will take place at 5.30pm on Thursday, April 5.

- Stuff


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