Ideas on future direction of rail trail sought

Daphne Hull
Daphne Hull
The Otago Central Rail Trail cannot "rest on its laurels", despite its success, trail trust chairwoman Daphne Hull says.

A workshop will be held later this month to canvass ideas "to ensure it retains its position as the leading cycle trail in New Zealand", she said.

"Nobody can be complacent," she said.

The workshop idea emerged after a planning meeting involving the trust, the Department of Conservation, Tourism Central Otago, the Rail Trail Operators' Group and the Taieri Gorge Railway.

"We were looking at what the rail trail means to everybody, having a bit of a think-tank, and then thought we should canvass the views of the trail neighbours and people in the towns near the trails as well.

"There might be people out there who aren't directly involved in the trail, but who have good ideas for making the most of the trail, that we'd be interested in hearing from."

Doc and the trust ensured the asset was maintained to a high standard but, even so, it was important to take a closer look at the future of the trail every now and again, she said.

"In the future there will be more choice available, with other cycle trails springing up around the country, so we want to ensure this remains the premium attraction."

Sharing ideas for the future of the asset, and implementing them, was one way of cementing that position.

"All of the ideas people come up with will be looked at very seriously and we'll take them on board. Some we'll be able to implement, but we're always governed by where the trail is, and what it is and how it's managed and governed by Doc, as a reserve, so that will have an influence," Mrs Hull said.

The number of cyclists on the trail was slightly down this season, compared with the past few years, she said.

"Our busy season starts in August or September and stretches through to autumn, so the Christchurch earthquakes had a big influence this season. A lot of our people come out of Christchurch, so that's had an impact on numbers coming through."

The patronage of the rail trail also had a big impact on business in the outlying areas, she said.

Cromwell and Queenstown businesses, as well as those in Dunedin, received a flow-on effect, gaining extra visitors.

The 150km walking and cycling trail, which was established on the Otago Central railway corridor between Clyde and Middlemarch, was officially opened in February 2000.

The rail trail workshop will be held at the Omakau Rugby Club rooms, on Friday, May 20, from 1pm-4.30pm.


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