Appalling weather conditions didn’t deter hundreds of people, many with bikes, from attending yesterday’s (Thursday) opening of the Queenstown Trail.
The 110km, $5.4 million trail was officially opened by Prime Minister John Key in a marquee installed near the new Arrow River swing bridge.
Key’s Government contributed $2m to the project as part of a national walking/cycling network.
The other key guest was former Olympic cycling gold medalist Sarah Ulmer who is the ambassador for the New Zealand Cycle Trail.
After a warm-up act by local all-girl singing troupe the Sequin Sisters, and official speeches, Key handed out plaques to recognise major trail funders including Central Lakes Trust, Community Trust of Southland and local benefactors Sir Eion Edgar and Jan Lady Edgar.
An honours board in the marquee acknowledged financial donors and also the generosity of 24 land owners who have provided easements through the Wakatipu countryside.
Trails trust chairman Terry Stevens handed over a symbolic key to Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden, to mark the official handover of the trail from the trust to the council.
Stevens also paid special tribute to the contribution made by trust chief executive Kaye Parker.
Key – who unveiled a plaque – even joked that he wanted Parker as his Queenstown MP should Bill English, his Deputy Prime Minister, ever retire.
Both Ulmer and English donned lycra to ride the new bridge straight after the ceremony.