New cycleway attracts most riders in country

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Queenstown’s new cycle trail network is the most popular in the country, according to statistics.

Since opening the Queens­town Cycle Trail to rave reviews in October last year, some of the local trails have had up to 85,000 riders using them, data from the New Zealand Cycle Trail reveals.

Hundreds of bike enthusiasts pedal across the $5.4 million, 100km-long network each day in the Wakatipu.

Analysis by the Queenstown Trails Trust shows in the three months from October 2012, total users of the Frankton track were 85,000.

“To put that figure into perspective, in 2011 the Frankton trail had 70,000 users in the whole year,” trust chief executive Kaye Parker says.

During the same three-month period, 11,000 people have ridden on the Kawarau River trail, 25,000 on the Edgar Bridge, 19,000 on the Kelvin Peninsula track, 24,000 on the Lower Shotover Bridge trail, 24,000 on the Speargrass Flat track and 18,000 used the Millennium trail extension in Arrowtown.

NZ Cycle Trail programme manager John Dunn says the Queenstown Trail has the biggest numbers out of all trails in the Nga Haerenga, NZ Cycle Trail. The second most popular trail is the Hauraki Trail, near Auckland.

“The Queenstown cycle trail is attracting an impressive number of riders and is the most popular in NZ,” he says.

“Part of this is due to the large number of tourists visiting the Queenstown area, and the fact many of those visitors are the types of people who enjoy jumping on a bike and getting out in the open air.

“In addition, one of the strengths of the Queenstown Trail is it gets good everyday usage – with locals using it for commuting and health and fitness.”

Parker says the trail’s popularity has exceeded the trust’s expectations.

“It’s wildly successful,” she says.

“I think one of the loveliest things is the positive comments we get. Of course people quite rightly say, ‘We could do with some loos here or better signage there’, but 100 per cent have said what a wonderful trail it is.

“They like where it goes, they like the interesting parts of it, they like how different it is in places, and how close it is to cafes and restaurants and attractions.”

Cycle tour operators using the trail have reported how busy they’ve been – particularly over Easter, Parker adds.

The trail was built over two years and traverses areas including Jack’s Point, Gibbston, Arrowtown, Lake Hayes, Speargrass Flat, Frankton, Queenstown and part of the edge of Lake Wakatipu.

“It’s a hub and spoke trail, not an A-to-B trail,” Parker explains.

“I think that’s one of the reasons it’s so popular – you can go for half an hour, an hour, a day, three days – whatever you want.”