Queenstown could be in for a major tourism windfall from the Government pumping $4 million into a new cycleway.
The Ministry of Tourism will hand over the grant next Wednesday to the Southland District Council to build a 174km Around the Mountains trail from Walter Peak Station to Kingston, via Von Valley, Mossburn and Garston.
Predictions are that business will grow from 4000 cyclists in the first year to 15,000 in year five, Queenstown-based project consultant Mike Barnett says.
The grant – which Southland District councillors approved yesterday – is about $4m to $5m short of the project’s capital cost.
Barnett says the SDC needs to find the balance from community funding agencies and other sources.
But he estimates Queenstown will reap more than 40 per cent of the four-day cycleway’s economic benefit from before and after-ride bed nights.
“Because most people will come into Queenstown, [the resort] will get two nights out of virtually everybody.”
The cycleway will also be a boon for Earnslaw operator Real Journeys, as most riders will use the vintage steamer to get from Queenstown to Walter Peak.
Barnett expects the majority of the track to be built by November 1 next year – stage one is from Walter Peak to Mossburn.
Around the Mountain is one of seven “quick-start” cycle trails announced by the Government a year ago and will be the second to receive funding.
The concept is modelled on the multi-day Otago Central Rail Trail which attracted about 20,000 riders last year.