Clyde-Cromwell trail plan excites

Kate Wilson
Kate Wilson
Development of a cycle trail in the Cromwell Gorge connecting Clyde and Cromwell has widespread support.

The proposed 40km trail, outlined in a feasibility study released in part to the Otago Daily Times this week, expected to cost $5.7 million and add $1.4 million to the region's economy annually and create 13 full-time jobs, would be a positive addition to the existing cycle trail network, interested parties said.

Otago Central Rail Trail Trust chairwoman Kate Wilson said the concept was a ''really exciting proposition''.

''It will contribute to the cycle trail network. Good on them [organisers of the feasibility study]. It adds to the Otago product.''

Roxburgh Gorge Trail Charitable Trust chairman Stephen Jeffery shared Mrs Wilson's enthusiasm for the proposal.

''The trust thinks it is very positive because at some point we always had a vision that we would connect them [cycle trails in Central Otago and the Southern Lakes] together and create a hub. It's exciting.''

He did not see it becoming a distraction from existing trails.

''I just see it growing our reputation as a cycle-friendly district with well-built trails.''

Sport Central co-ordinator Bill Godsall said the trail was a ''no-brainer''.

''The whole idea of the track down that side of the gorge is stunning ... It will be a real boon for bikers.''

If people were offered more opportunities to exercise, such as the trail, they would use them, he said.

An example was the creation of the track around Lake Hayes, near Arrowtown, and the number of users it had.

''People will use it, there's no two ways around it.''

Cromwell and District Community Trust chairwoman Jacqui Rule, who was involved in commissioning the feasibility study for the trail, said she had been receiving calls from members of the community who were excited about and supportive of the idea after a story about the trail was published in the Otago Daily Times yesterday. Cromwell Community Board chairman Neil Gillespie said if the project went ahead and funding could be secured, the trail would be a great resource for the area.

Like other trails in the region, it would open up a unique part of New Zealand. However, there was a ''huge task'' in front of anyone involved in the project, he said.

''The general observation would be that there is a lot of work to be done before this is definitely going to happen.''

The trail would have to go through a consent process, and there would be a range of views on its construction, and issues which would have to be worked through.

Mrs Wilson brought up issues such as the cost of maintaining the trail, but said as long as a model factoring in those costs was created, it was a great idea.

''The biggest problem is if things go wrong and getting people in to help. You have to look at those other things [such as] access to parts of the trail in emergencies.

''You have to be able to get people off safely.''

Mrs Rule said a trust would be established to manage those issues, and planning and development, as the community trust had been responsible for the feasibility study only.

She believed more of the study would be released to media and public in the future.

Mr Gillespie said a trail in the gorge, using and connecting existing four-wheel-drive tracks, was proposed by the Cromwell Community Board in 1996 in an application to the Clyde Dam Amenity Grant Fund, but never went ahead, as it did not get approval.

- leith.huffadine@odt.co.nz

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