Funding problems have delayed construction of the Around The
Mountains cycle trail until next year.
Originally planned to begin in December 2011, the $11 million
trail still awaits funding agreement from the Ministry of
Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).
Venture Southland group manager of community development and
events Rex Capil said yesterday he was unsure what had caused
the delay from MBIE and was ''hopeful'' the trail could begin
Mr Capil hoped the new target of a three-day marketed bike
ride would be met by October.
Customers would bike from Walter Peak to Mavora, bus the
section to Mossburn, which will not be completed in time,
bike to Athol on day two and then finish at Kingston on day
''We want to market this as a three-day trail to begin with
and get this part out of the way before starting on the
Once the Mavora to Mossburn section is complete the entire
trail will take four or five days to ride. After permission
to build the section between Mt Nicholas Rd and the Oreti
suspension bridge was declined in August due to environmental
concerns, SDC decided not to appeal and instead work on an
alternate route from Mavora Lakes to Mossburn.
The declined section through the Eyre Mountains, from Mavora
to West Dome, comprises 28km of the 175km trail - part of
Prime Minister John Key's $50 million cycleway initiative.
Since this was declined by commissioner Denis Nugent, of
Wanaka, the trail's progress has awaited private landowner
agreements, an archaeologist report and now the funding
package from the MBIE.
Mr Capil remained upbeat yesterday and said the three-day
trail ''would still be world class'' despite having the
''crown jewel'' section near the Eyre Mountains omitted.
''We need time to work on the next best route from Mavora and
we don't want to rush that. We don't want it to be a
short-term quick fix.''
The council was unlikely to appeal the commissioner's
decision and central Government was unlikely to step in, Mr
''If we can't have it, we can't have it. That is what the
whole process is for.''
The expected completion date for the entire trail was 2015,
Meanwhile, Mr Capil was unconcerned over the possible effect
of the proposed Riverstone Holdings 43km monorail from a
terminus in the Mararoa River valley to Te Anau Downson the
''I haven't studied it in detail. I have heard from some
members of the public that it may have effect and [from] some
it may not.''
Commercial operations for the Around the Mountains Trail also
relied on the Kingston Flyer steam train resuming service by
the time the construction of the trail is completed.
This would mean customers on the trail would begin by taking
the Earnslaw steamship to Walter Peak and end on the steam
train to Kingston.