A whopping $26.3 million will be spent combining four existing Otago cycle trails, including Queenstown, into one monster Otago network spanning 536 kilometres.
Prime Minister John Key announced $13m of government funding yesterday, while the Central Lakes Trust will provide $11.15m, more than five times its highest grant.
The Otago Community Trust will contribute $2m.
Key says there’s no question’ the four rides are already some of the greatest in the world.
“This is just going to make them absolutely the Mecca for anyone who wants to go cycling.”
Cycle trails across the country attract “high-value” visitors and convince them to stay longer, he says.
A new track will connect the Queenstown trails with Cromwell, through the Kawarau Gorge.
Another new trail will be built from Cromwell to Wanaka and the Queenstown, Clutha Gold, Roxburgh Gorge and Otago Central Rail Trails will all be connected.
A route will be built through the Cromwell Gorge and connect Clyde to Cromwell.
The project will also involve restoring the old Alexandra Bridge which was deconstructed in 1958. Its piers still lie next to the present bridge.
Central Lakes Trust boss Paul Allison says the trail will be a game changer for Otago.
“It’s a very inspirational project that will do a lot for our region.”
The trust’s $11.15m grant will not affect other funding projects, he says.
Otago Community Trust chairman Ross McRobie says the project will provide employment opportunities and ensure the sustained growth of regional towns.
Trail Network Steering Group chairman Stephen Jeffery says many consents will be needed from various councils.
Different groups will likely take responsibility for different parts of the trail network, he says.
Central Otago Mayor Tony Lepper says the project is huge for the region.
“It’s another way of funnelling visitors from Queenstown to us.”
The council is “supportive all the way”, he says, and will probably play an administrative role.
Central Otago Rail Trail Charitable Trust chairwoman Kate Wilson says the project will broaden the season of its trail.
“My hope is that it will bring skiers over from Queenstown in the winter, which is fantastic.”
Upper Clutha Tracks Trust chairman Grant Fyfe says there will be “landowner issues” creating the Wanaka leg of the trail.
“But it will happen. We’re very excited.”
Feasibility studies have been completed on all sections of the trail.
The project is expected to take five years.
Otago Daily Times