Cycle trail network waits on paperwork

Kate MacGregor (left), Vanessa McMaster and Angela Thompson, all of Wellington, traverse a...
Kate MacGregor (left), Vanessa McMaster and Angela Thompson, all of Wellington, traverse a section of the Otago Central Rail Trail between Clyde and Alexandra. Photo: Jono Edwards.
Construction of  a $26.3 million trail network spanning 536km throughout Otago will probably not start until  the  beginning  of  next year,  at the eariest.

A project was announced in May to combine four Otago rides and create new ones to make a trail network linking Wanaka, Queenstown, Lawrence and Middlemarch.

It would be created with $13 million from Government, $11.2 million from the Central Lakes Trust and $2 million from the Otago Community Trust.

Central Otago Queenstown Trails Steering Trust chairman Stephen Jeffery said  little more  could be done until the three funders had reached an agreement on plans.

"At the moment we’re doing things like looking at sections of land that are more difficult to reach. Simple things, like how do we get the gravel there to do the track."

Construction would likely not start until early to mid next year, but "even that was a guess", he said.

"If you’d asked me earlier in the year I would have said we’d have started by now, but there’s a process you have to go through."

The Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment would need to complete a business case before the land easement process could start or the trust could get any resource consents from councils, he said.

Things were ‘‘progressing’’ in completing a 12km missing section of the Roxburgh Gorge Trail which would mean building a trail though the properties of three land owners, he said.

"One is pretty much tidied up, one of the farmers has been trying to get to an agreement that will allow us to go over his land. The third one I’m not so sure about, to be honest."

The feasibility studies for all parts of the trail were completed before it was announced in May.

Ministry tourism, sectors, regions and cities general manager Lisa Barrett said the deadline for initial concept phase applications was November 18.

A workshop session about the application would be held late this year or early next, she said.

After that it will create a business case, which, once approved, will be followed by a detailed implementation plan.

The plan for the network is to build a trail from Cromwell to Wanaka and connect the Queenstown, Clutha Gold, Roxburgh Gorge and Otago Central Rail Trails.

A route will be built through the Cromwell Gorge and connect Clyde to Cromwell.

From there, another track will connect Cromwell with the Queenstown Trail in the Kawarau Gorge.

jono.edwards@odt.co.nz

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