Legal action is spanner in spokes for cycle network

Legal action threatening expansion plans for Central Otago and Queenstown Lakes’ network of cycle trails goes to mediation next week.

Property developer Dave Henderson has taken the action against the Central Otago Queenstown Trail Network Trust after the latter was granted in February resource consents for a 27.5km-long trail in the Kawarau Gorge connecting existing cycle trails from Gibbston to Bannockburn.

Mr Henderson said he could not comment on the action which would go to mediation on Thursday but then went on to explain his motives.

"My only reason for being involved is to give them [the trust] a better experience."

He said he had tried to engage with the trust but had been given the cold shoulder.

"I’ve said before we could have a chat over a cup of coffee."

That had not eventuated.

The Otago Daily Times understands the action centres on land he and former Christchurch mayor Sir Bob Parker and his wife Lady Joanna Nichols-Parker own as an entity called the Cardrona Cattle Company Ltd.

The $4.5 million block is next to Queenstown’s Victoria Hills landfill in the Gibbston valley.

The ODT understands Mr Henderson contends that the trail runs through part of the land and he was not consulted as an affected party.

Central Otago Queenstown Trail Network Trust chairman Stephen Jeffery would not be drawn on the mediation and offered no details when asked.

In an interview with RNZ on Thursday he said resource consent applications to link Cromwell to Queenstown and Wanaka, and to connect the two sections of the Roxburgh Gorge Trail had been submitted.

The objection meant the action could head to the Environment Court.

Mr Jeffery told RNZ he was confident those hurdles could be cleared, considering the potential benefit to the wider region of tourists being able to hop off a plane at Dunedin Airport and cycle all the way to Queenstown, or vice-versa.

"It’s good tourism isn’t it? It’s sustainable, except for the construction phase, it’s sustainable tourism, so it’s good for everyone and it’s good for everyone’s health to get out there and ride bikes."

Eventually the links would bring together the Queenstown, Clutha Gold, Roxburgh Gorge, Lake Dunstan and Otago Central Rail trails.

There were also plans to see the network eventually connect to North Otago’s Alps 2 Ocean, he said.

Meanwhile, it is hoped work on the next connections between Otago’s cycle trails will begin this year.

When completed, a continuous 600km network of trails will link Queenstown to Dunedin.

Otago already boasts more than a quarter of the country’s 23 Great Rides, but what was planned next might be the most ambitious so far.

"We always had a view of making this a destination to come and ride," Stephen Jeffery said.

"That meant we had to link all the trails together — the Queenstown Trails, out of Wanaka, linking with the Rail Trail, and all the way through to Dunedin Airport was the original goal ... and we’re well on track to do that."

Planning was well advanced for connecting Queenstown Lakes and Central Otago’s Great Rides, he said.

Work had also started on the link from Lawrence to Waihola, with plans for it to be finished next year.

— Additional reporting RNZ

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