Extra funding provides boost for cycle trails

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash (centre) experiences the Roxburgh Gorge Trail with Shayne O’Connor...
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash (centre) experiences the Roxburgh Gorge Trail with Shayne O’Connor of Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold Great Rides (left) and Stephen Jeffery of Central Otago Clutha Trails yesterday. PHOTO: SUPPLIED
Stephen Jeffery recalls when he was a boy growing up in Central Otago, most of the tourists he saw driving past had skis on their vehicle roof racks.

Now, as chairman of Central Otago Clutha Trails Ltd, which maintains the Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold Trails, he is pleased to see more vehicles carrying bikes as Central’s cycle trails build in popularity.

The charitable company was a recipient of annual funding from Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trails Fund, announced yesterday by Tourism Minister Stuart Nash, with $66,199 earmarked for repairs and maintenance of both trails.

The Otago Central Rail Trail Trust was funded $21,355 for enhancements to existing trail interpretation and wayfinding signs and to improve its educational resources.

Funding was approved for 13 "Great Rides" from the Far North to Central Otago, totalling just over $850,000.

In announcing the funding, Mr Nash said the community and charitable trusts who maintained the cycle trails carried out countless hours of volunteer work but also relied on the Government to step in with support to maintain and enhance the trails.

The trails were of health and economic benefit to locals, by providing an exercise option and bringing people and business to the community, he said.

"In the last two or three years, the trails have become significantly more popular."

Otago Central Rail Trail Trust chairwoman Kate Wilson said the grant meant the trust could continue to strive to offer trail users a better experience each year, as many returned more than once.

In addition to improving signs on the trail, the funds would improve the trust’s off-trail education, through its railtales.nz resource.

 - Tracie Barrett 

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