Blazing a 100km trail

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Wakatipu Trails Trust bosses believe completion of 100km of “world class” tracks will boost Queenstown’s portfolio of tourist-magnet attractions. 

Almost 60km of trails are already finished but two major new tracks are proposed – and all will link up to provide 102km in total. 

Trust chairman Terry Stevens says the first new section would start in Arrowtown and follow the Arrow River to the Kawarau bungy bridge. The second links up with it, taking people from Gibbston to Frankton. 

“If we want to have this as a really attractive tourist attraction we need to have world-class trails,” Stevens says. 

Fundraising for the work begins next Thursday with the Wakatipu Trail Blazer event. Entrants pay $15 to walk or run the trust’s new 7.5km track from the Jack’s Point Clubhouse to Jardine Park. Entrants can also do a 15km cycle. 

The Government has pledged $1.8 million – half the cost of the $3.6m trails project – once a feasibility study is completed. 

Stevens says Queenstown Lakes District Council officials are working on this, assessing where bridges are needed, whose private land will be crossed and linking up trails. 

“They certainly believe it’s do-able.” 

Trust patron Sir Eion Edgar is urging Wakatipu residents to join him for the Trail Blazer, saying it’ll bolster his case for tapping bigger funding sources. The Central Lakes Trust and Community Trust of Otago have already expressed interest in the project and QLDC has also agreed to hefty financial backing. 

“To strengthen that support we need to be seen as a body that raises its own money,” Edgar says. 

“The Trail Blazer is to increase the profile and raise the number of members. 

“If you can’t make it or don’t feel up to it, you can still join us as a member – I’m sure you’ll have used the tracks at some point.” 

Edgar says the Trust needs to raise its $1.8m share during the next three years and he’s confident they can pull it off. 

“They’re fantastic facilities. This will enhance the walking and cycling tracks. The new ones will complete the network around the region. 

“It’s fantastic for people who live here and will attract people here.”