‘World-class’ cycle trail plan laid out

A $6 million plan to build two cycle trails could put Dunedin on a path to becoming a destination "rivalling that of the south of France".

Dunedin Tracks Network Trust trustees Sarah Davie-Nitis and Paul Coffey laid out their ambitions for five new "world-class" Dunedin cycle trails to Otago regional councillors, this week.

Mr Coffey said the group ultimately had a goal of linking the city to Otago’s existing trails.

"We want to make Otago a cycling destination. If we succeed in what we want to do, we will be rivalling that of the South of France," Mr Coffey said.

"People won’t have to go to the South of France to do that cycling experience, they can come here to Otago to do it — through our vineyards, past our lakes, down along our coastal shores.

"We will attract people out of that south of France to do this."

The trust was working on two "feasible" trails — a Coastal Communities Cycle Connection, north to Waikouaiti; and a Taieri Trail, towards Outram.

There were also three "potential" trails: a coastal Otago Peninsula trail, and a south coast trail, as well as one connecting Outram to Hindon.

The "elephant in the room" for a lot of people was getting from Outram through to Hindon, but the track the trust was proposing was not along the rail line, Mr Coffey said.

"We would keep away from that and try to go up the actual river itself, and up the gorge."

Ms Davie-Nitis said the ambition outlined by Mr Coffey would take decades of work, but in the next three to five years the Coastal Communities Cycle Connection (for which the feasibility study had been completed) and a Taieri Trail (the feasibility study was being reviewed) would be the initial focus.

So too would investigating the trail to Hindon, she said.

But the process of securing agreements to grant easements was already under way and one of the coastal trail’s five sections was "just about ready to go", she said.

The trust was also about halfway to funding a design for a bridge over the Waikouaiti River.

For the Taieri Trail, the trust was working closely with the council’s flood protection team to develop "an agreed pathway" to move forward from Mosgiel to Outram.

It had also started discussions with NZ Transport Agency Waka Kotahi about a possible "clip-on" at the Outram Bridge.

The trust planned to raise $6million over the next five years "to make some real headway" on the first two trails.

This week the trust asked the council to include the Taieri Trail in its transport plans and to empower council staff to continue their work with the trust.