Monday, February 26, 2024

E-bike touring a new challenge for Wairarapa woman

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Bundle of energy Lucinda Maunsell is channelling it into a 65km bike trail in the Tinui Valley and beyond – and that’s just the start.
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In this year’s Land Champions edition, we celebrate domestic and imported people in agriculture, from the Italian clan that owns a slice of North Otago wool production to the teacher rebooting ag education in the hort heartland if western Bay of Plenty.

Lucinda Maunsell is young, energetic, focused and looking for opportunities. The bright and bubbly young mother has travelled the world, working bars, selling high-end cookware, real estate and surf photography. She also crewed on the remote locations’ vessel Braveheart.

In 2014 she returned to the family farm, Rahui, where she is a proud sixth-generation farmer.

With young daughter Lilah she did whatever work was available, labouring, selling firewood and gardening, among others. When Lilah started kindergarten Lucinda completed a business studies course, which she thought was “brilliant”. She then did the Tora Walk. She describes the women running it as “inspirational”.

Her current passion is her e-bike touring business. It offers the Rahui Coastal Loop, a three-day e-bike tour in coastal Wairarapa that starts at the junction of Tinui Valley and the Masterton Castlepoint Road and proceeds to Rahui, 10km up the Tinui Valley Road. 

There bikers find a comfortable farm-stay cottage that has been recently refurbished, complete with an outside bath. As part of their overnight visit they are encouraged to do a tour of the spectacular garden. Lucinda also has a near-new-clothes boutique called Don’t Tell Mama,  where nothing is over $40. 

The cyclists are fed a traditional farmhouse dinner and breakfast and from there they bike up Tinui Valley and down to Mataikona, a small coastal settlement north of Castlepoint. From Mataikona it is a 15km coastal ride to Castlepoint, where they spend the second night. Finally they bike back to the Tinui Valley Road via Lucinda’s father Bill’s hideaway, which has a 360-degree view of the Wairarapa Valley and coast. 

The three-day 65km tour costs $550 if you hire an e-bike, and $440 if you have your own. That includes two nights’ accommodation and two breakfasts, lunches and dinners.

After the two cyclones that hammered Tinui, Lucinda organised a successful charity e-bike event, which encouraged 53 cyclists to do their thing for the local community.   

E-bikes meet the business criteria Lucinda wants. They are low emission, climate friendly and sustainable. They are also safer than regular bikes. The greenhouse gas footprint of the business is minimal.

The scenery around outback Tinui is spectacular, and Lucinda never tires of telling people about it.

She went into the e-bike touring business because she wanted to do something new and different. Her research showed that post covid many people had purchased e-bikes so she decided to test it out. It worked.

For the future Lucinda is further investigating garden tours and is considering the option of night rides with night sky views. Wairarapa is an accredited night sky region and by the coast the night sky views are spectacular.

With plenty of help she has also refurbished an old sawmill, first built by her grandfather. In future she intends to mill their own timber.

Lucinda is a person of many talents who is totally committed to the wider Tinui – Castlepoint communities. She is an accomplished horse woman, a New Zealand high jump representative who competed at the Oceania Games and a winner of a NZ Rural Women Business Award.

She could have stayed in town, doing the many profitable jobs she had. Instead she returned to the family farm, did her research and started a business bringing income to the local community.

Expect to hear a lot more about her in future.

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