Peddling proposals for new cycling trails

Seaton makes his way down the Signal Hill track. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Seaton makes his way down the Signal Hill track. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
For good, or bad, these "newsmakers" were the people making headlines in 2023.

Development of any public trail for cycling and walking requires a group effort, time and money, but one name has reliably featured in proposals in Otago and beyond.

Hamish Seaton, from Active Systems Ltd, was behind a feasibility study dated May 25 this year about connecting coastal communities north of Dunedin.

His name was attached to another feasibility study in June — this time for a proposed trail between Mosgiel and Waihola.

It is expected his name will soon appear on another report, about the possibility of extending the Otago Central Rail Trail past Middlemarch and towards Dunedin.

Such reports are a key plank in any project.

They outline viable routes, the case for developing them and the expected costs.

Hamish Seaton
Hamish Seaton
After that, grants are pursued, agreements are reached with landowners and trails are developed. They typically happen section by section within a process that takes years.

Mr Seaton is an electrical engineer and is known to have an instinctive sense for where a trail should go.

He is also routinely described as softly spoken and not a man to seek the limelight.

He has for years been influential in Mountain Biking Otago, which has been behind the development of tracks around Dunedin, and he helped lead development of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail, which runs from the foot of Aoraki/Mt Cook to Oamaru.

Otago provided plenty of work for Mr Seaton this year, as he studied road reserve, rail corridors and flood banks.

His detailed reports for the Dunedin Tracks Network Trust laid the groundwork for how trails could be developed southwest of Dunedin and to the city’s north.

The proposed extension of the Otago Central Rail Trail is more contentious, but he has been exploring how a trail in the Taieri Gorge could be done should there be willpower to pedal on.