New Zealand's national cycleway gains momentum
08 Jul 2010
Cycling Nga Haerenga - New Zealand’s national cycleway is a step closer with funding approved for another eight sections destined to provide 'great rides' through some of the country’s most picturesque locations.
A further NZ$18.85 million will help construct eight tracks which - along with the five already en route - will provide 1700km of completed trail.
The new projects are in Opotiki / Gisborne, Taupo and Hawke’s Bay in the North Island, and Nelson / Tasman, Westport, Mt Cook / Waitaki, Queenstown and Clutha in the South Island.
These trails are in addition to seven 'quick start' projects that were announced in mid-2009 - the first of which, two sections of the Ruapehu to Whanganui Nga Ara Tuhono trail, was launched on 2 July.
Others are currently in various stages of development.
Acting Tourism Minister Jonathan Coleman says the trails will showcase the best New Zealand has to offer in landscape, culture and communities.
"They will be a key drawcard for both international and domestic visitors and add a further dimension to our vibrant tourism sector," said Dr Coleman.
Work on the approved eight sections will begin this summer, and the government estimates the national cycleway project will deliver a total of 500 jobs over the next two years.
Programme manager John Dunn says the effort gone into completing feasibility studies has enabled funding for the trails to be confirmed four months ahead of schedule, allowing construction to begin as soon as possible.
The government says that once the trails are finished they will create jobs in each area’s accommodation, transport and services sector.
Nga Haerenga - new cycle tracks
Old Motu Coach Road - Gisborne / Opotiki
Construction of a cycleway on the Old Motu Coach Road between Opotiki and Gisborne, on the East Coast of the North Island, has been given NZ$1.7m of funding. Work will begin in October.
The Department of Conservation (DOC) will contribute a further NZ$360,000.
The Motu trail will go from Matawai through the Old Motu Coach Road with an option of detouring through the Pakihi Track or continuing along the Pacific Coast Highway to the Tirohanga conservation area, following historic tracks through the heart of the Urutawa conservation area.
One of the strengths of the Motu trail is its suitability for all fitness levels, said Tourism Eastland chief executive Graham Breckell.
Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon says the cycle trail will provide a good recreational link from Opotiki to Gisborne: "It will also be exceptionally good for the rural communities there, to look at opportunities for bed and breakfasts, nature trails, tourist trails and that sort of thing."
News of the cycle trail approval has been well received by the Matawai community where the cycle trail begins.
"Naturally we are very, very excited," said Matawai Hotel owner Essie Langley. "It will be a real bonus for the hotel and other businesses in the area and if it takes off anything like the cycle trail in the South Island, it would be great. We will do whatever it takes to bring the tourists here - we’ve just got to be prepared," he said.
Lake Track Cycle Trail - Taupo
Bike Taupo will receive NZ$2.26 in government funding to construct the Lake Track Cycle Trail on the western shores of Lake Taupo.
The first 35km of the 100km track has already been completed, and includes the Whakaipo to Kinloch - W2K Track. Work on the remaining 65km through to the Waihaha Road bridge should begin in early 2011.
The track mainly passes through public conservation land, but negotiations with some private owners are underway. Bike Taupo hopes that approval will be given within two - three months, according to chairman Thomas Schwarz.
The complete track will take three days to ride, and will include multi-stages with shorter sections suitable for beginners and intermediates.
Primary access will be by road or water taxi. Five lakeside drop-off places will allow cyclists to choose separate sections according to level of experience and time. Two drop-off points - Kinloch and Boat Harbour - have existing accommodation.
Heretaunga Ararau Trail - Hawke’s Bay
Some sections of the Heretaunga Ararau trail in Hawke’s Bay have been given the green light, with the remainder subject to feasibility studies.
To complement local funding, the government has provided NZ$2.6m towards a $4.3m project to build a new 65km cycle trail extending the existing 70km Rotary Pathway network.
Construction is expected to begin in November, and the trails around Napier and Hastings are expected to attract a minimum of 55,000 users annually within five years.
Hawke’s Bay is considered an important cycling destination because of the climate, bike-friendly terrain, modest average wind speed and existing tourist infrastructure including wineries and accommodation options.
With the Port of Napier adjacent to the cycle trail, it is envisaged that cruise ship passengers will make up a third of trail users in the 2011 - 2012 year.
A proposed ride named the Water Trail will loop north of Napier to Bay View on an existing pathway and back on a new section taking in a Māori pa site.
The Landscapes Trail in the Tukituki Valley will create a loop from Te Awanga past Craggy Range to Red Bridge - on the road to Waimarama Beach - and back via the Maraetotara Valley and Clifton.
It is already possible to ride 30km from Port Ahuriri in Napier to River Rd, Havelock North, completely off-road on the Rotary Pathway.
Dun Mountain Trail & Tasman Loop - Nelson / Tasman
The Dun Mountain Trail and Tasman Loop in the Nelson / Tasman region receive a NZ$2.6m allocation of new funding.
Money will be used to create 6km extension to the 30km Dun Mountain trail from the Maitai Dam to the road, and the first stage of the 175km Tasman Loop from Richmond to Wakefield and Mapua.
Nelson MP Nick Smith says a cycleway in the region will potentially attract 25,000 cycle tourists spending NZ$5.1m a year.
The cycleway is particularly significant in boosting off-season tourists, and Nelson Cycle Trails Trust trustee Chris Allison says the region has one of the few climates in the country where it's almost better in winter for riding.
"This will help us drive the whole model of Nelson-Tasman being a cycle trail centre of excellence. No other region in the country offers the range of features that we have," said Allison.
Westland Wildernesss Trail - West Coast
The 120km cycle way from Greymouth to Ross on the West Coast of the South Island has received NZ$3.2m in government funding, and construction is expected to begin this summer.
Known as the Westland Wilderness Trail, the cycle route will head from Blaketown down the coast to Paroa, inland via Kumara, Dillmanstown and Goldsborough, rejoining the coast to Hokitika and then following the old railway line from Ruatapu to Ross.
It is estimated that the West Coast could profit from the trail, to the tune of NZ$8m a year.
Former project chair, Green Party list MP Kevin Hague says as well as a boost to the economy, the trail would be used by children and locals to cycle to and from school and work, away from busy state highway.
A decision on funding for another West Coast cycleway - the Old Ghost Trail from Lyell to Mokihinui - should be delivered by the end of October.
Alps to Ocean Trail - Mt Cook / Waitaki
The Alps to Ocean cycle trail through the Waitaki and MacKenzie regions has received funding of NZ$2.75m.
Phil Brownie, Destination Mt Cook Mackenzie general manager, said the 300km cycleway would showcase the diversity of the regions, and have huge economic and social benefits for the communities.
"If we’re successful we’ll have created New Zealand’s ultimate cycleway encompassing everything from the country’s highest peak (Aorangi Mt Cook), through some of its most spectacular natural landscapes and wildlife all the way to the coast and the authentic Victorian town of Oamaru," Brownie said.
The new trail, expected to be open by November 2011, would offer an alternative "off the beaten track" experience, through some of the South Island’s most beautiful countryside, according to working party chair Mike Neilson.
Waitaki Tourism chief executive Annabel Gudsell said the cycleway would help revitalise towns and villages along the track, and put Waitaki on the map.
The trail would be user-friendly and suitable for everyone from novice bikers and families up to more adventurous cyclists with the promise of no more than 15km between cafés, and plenty of accommodation and transport options.
Clutha Gold Trail - Central Otago
One of two cycle trails proposed for Central Otago has been given funding, with the other earmarked but yet to meet the necessary criteria.
Construction of the 54km Clutha Gold Trail from Roxburgh to Lawrence received NZ$2.54m in the latest round of approvals, and the 34km Roxburgh Gorge Trail from Alexandra to Roxburgh should have a go-ahead by the end of October.
Cycle trail programme manager John Dunn said one of the interesting things about the Clutha Gold trail was that it linked small communities.
"It's nice coming down the [Clutha] river. It's different. It's got some quite nice history along it. Cyclists could stop and spend 10 minutes reading about it," Dunn said.
The Clutha Gold and Roxburgh Gorge trails will interlink and also connect with the existing Otago Central Rail Trail.
Central Otago mayor Malcolm Macpherson said the new trails would be a boon for the district and give it a nice regional network with some extra capacity at peak times when the rail trail was busy.
Clutha Gold trail trust chairman Rod Peirce, of Roxburgh, said the proposed route still had to be finalised and the trust was negotiating with the 103 landowners along the way.
Both trails will contribute an estimated NZ$3.5 million in annual gross domestic profit through Central Otago.
The Queenstown Trail, formerly known as the Wakatipu Trail, will receive government funding of NZ$1.83m.
The 100km cycleway will incorporate Gibbston, Arrowtown, Lake Hayes Estate, Frankton and Queenstown.
The Wakatipu Trails Trust (WTT) says it will need to raise another NZ$600,000 towards the project - to build up to eight bridges required to complete the cycleway.
The two major sections of the Queenstown Trail are from the Arrow Millennium trail over the Arrow River with eight bridges leading to Gibbston. The other is from the Shotover Bridge around to the Arrowtown trail which will also lead to Gibbston.
"With all the bridges you can imagine how beautiful it’s going to be," said WTT chief executive Kaye Parker.
Parts of the trails that don’t require consent will be started immediately.
A more detailed timeline would be built before 20 July but there were no impediments and the council had options that would provide the track, according to Queenstown Lakes District Council parks and open spaces director Paul Wilson.
"We’re going for the views and the scenery and all the other activities around it that users will stop and enjoy," Wilson said.
Other cycle trails
The Ministry of Tourism says further work is continuing on four other trails as part of the national cycleway.
These include the Thermal by Bike trail (Rotorua), the Ruapehu to Whanganui trail, Old Ghost Road trail (West Coast) and the Roxburgh Gorge trail (Alexandra).
Although issues have been identified in the feasibility studies for these trails which need to be resolved before funding can be committed to their construction, it is hoped a decision will be made by the end of October.
The St James Trail, near Hanmer Springs in the South Island, is under way and due to open later this year.
Sections of other trails have also been completed, including parts of the Waikato River Trail and Whanganui - Ruapehu.
New Zealand cycleway takes off
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