Tourism route via Maniototo proposed

Central Otago’s tourism agency is to promote a new inland touring route, highlighting the beauty...
Central Otago’s tourism agency is to promote a new inland touring route, highlighting the beauty of the Maniototo landscape. Photo: Craig Baxter.
Central Otago’s answer to the Southern Scenic Route will highlight Maniototo’s big skies landscape.

A proposal for a Central Otago Touring Route, linking Central Otago to Queenstown and Dunedin, was approved in principle by the Central Otago District Council this week.

The idea was mooted by Tourism Central Otago (TCO) which hopes the inland route will give visitors an "off the beaten track" experience as well as reinvigorating some of the smaller communities in the area. In the proposal report, the tourism body, which comes under the auspices of the council, said there would be "significant economic benefits" for the Maniototo. There would also be flow-on effects for other parts of the region, it said.

There was a debate about whether the route should go through the Teviot Valley or through the Maniototo but the report said the Teviot Valley had the benefit of two relatively new cycle trails. The Maniototo had the Otago Central Rail Trail which drew visitors, but it would still benefit from the new "touring route" which would encourage more visitors.

Council market support officer Alison Mason said the idea had been mooted in the council’s 2007 tourism strategy and was still regarded as a "high priority". Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said the initiative would provide visitors with ideas and information that would enable them to get out and explore more of the district. and had great potential to spread the benefits of tourism throughout the district.

Initial discussions with the New Zealand Transport Agency had been positive, the council was told. The agency was prepared to join with the council in funding the infrastructure needed. No funding was being committed to the project at this stage, Mr Cadogan said. Estimates will be sought to "set up" the route, which follows state highways. The costs will include signs, marketing and promotion, and infrastructure.

TCO Acting General Manager Glenys Coughlan said it was pleasing to see all the groundwork that had been completed on the project recognised and the project being given approval to go the next step.

"Touring routes are a great vehicle for dispersing visitors beyond traditional tourism routes and with Central Otago’s distinctive seasonal offering, the opportunities to promote the region as the destination with four spectacular seasons is strong," Ms Coughlan said.

The report said a greater volume of traffic went from Dunedin through Roxburgh to Queenstown than through the proposed route.

"By developing the touring route through the Maniototo, this will disperse traffic within Central Otago which will ultimately enable the roads to become less congested," it said. 

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