Record use this season

Peak season patronage of the Otago Central Rail Trail has hit a record high of 14,000 people. Trail trustee Daphne Hull said counters recorded that number of people completing the full 150km length of the trail between September last year and April this year - the traditional peak season.

''That's about 2000 more than in the same time last year, and is, I believe, another increase on our previous peak number. And within that figure, we're seeing an increasing number of free independent travellers.''

The peak season had stretched into May which was pleasing.

''That's something we've wanted to do, extend the season, and it seems to be happening by natural evolution.''

As well as attracting visitors to the area, the trail also catered for locals and sections near towns had high patronage by locals out for a walk or bike ride.

''The majority of rail-trailers doing the whole length of the trail are still from New Zealand, and then the next biggest group is Australians.

"As far as inquiries to the website are concerned, we're getting an increasing number from Russia and the Ukraine, which is interesting, but we also hear from people in England and Europe, and all over, really,'' Mrs Hull said.

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