The growing importance of cycle trails to tourism was
recognised by the Government yesterday when Prime Minister
John Key announced $8 millon worth of maintenance funding
over four years for the New Zealand Cycle Trail Great Rides
and an additional $500,000 for the Around the Mountains
The extra funding for the Around the Mountains trail means
the Southland District Council can complete the first stage
of construction by the end of May and the township of Athol
will be included.
The expectation is the Government's funding will be matched
by at least 50% by local government ''and other interested
Mr Key said the funding was recognition of the importance of
cycleways but it could only be accessed for significant
weather damage or major improvements.
The Around the Mountains cycle trail, which is part of the
New Zealand Cycle Trail Great Rides, received an additional
boost because a route change, resulting from a land dispute,
increased its overall cost. Southland Mayor Gary Tong said
the additional funding would ensure the progression of the
''The sooner Southland can benefit from the Around the
Mountains Cycle Trail, the better it is for our communities
and the people who live in them.''
Mr Key estimated 97,000 people tackled New Zealand's Great
Rides in January alone and last year the trails experienced a
56% average growth rate in the number of users.
Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said Mr Key's announcement was
''welcome'' news for the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail. The
council, along with trail supporters and backers, had
''ongoing'' discussions with the Government to secure
additional funding, and the council would continue to work
with the Government to create a fully off-road trail.
Initially, the trail received $2.75 million in funding from
the New Zealand Cycle Trail fund in 2010, but that has
already been spent, along with more than another $1.25
million in grants, donations and in-kind work.
About 40% of the trail, between Mt Cook/Aoraki and Oamaru,
was off-road, but a further $2 million was needed to take the
whole 312km trail off-road, he said.
Clutha Gold Charitable Trust chairman Rod Peirce called the
news ''quite exciting''. This week, the Central Otago
District Council agreed to include $100,000 in its draft
annual plan for general maintenance of district cycle trails.
Roxburgh trail trust chairman Stephen Jeffery said the fund
was good news but he wanted to see the details about what
projects were eligible.
''I'd like to see what the conditions are.''