Invitation to apply to tracks, huts fund

Robin McNeill.
Robin McNeill.
A consortium representing more than 30,000 trampers, hunters, mountaineers and mountain bikers is inviting outdoor groups to bid for a slice of a $700,000 grant for upgrading backcountry huts and tracks on public conservation land.

NZ Outdoor Recreation Consortium spokesman Robin McNeill, of Invercargill, said applications for its first monthly funding round would be accepted between September 15 and October 12.

The consortium, which is made up of the Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC), the New Zealand Deerstalkers Association (NZDA) and biking trail group the Trail Fund, secured the grant from the Government's Community Conservation Partnership Fund earlier this month.

Mr McNeill said the consortium's three member groups would allocate a quarter of the funds each, with the remaining portion to be allocated for other recreational activities such as horseriding, four-wheel-driving and base jumping.

It had already provided the Ministry of Conservation with an ''indicative'' list of more than 100 projects involving 36 backcountry huts, 670km of track and about 10,000 volunteer hours.

Most of those projects were likely to go ahead, but clubs now had to prepare formal applications.

''We want to make the bidding arrangements easy, especially for the smaller projects.''

Included in the indicative proposals was a new, relocatable hut on the Tasman Glacier, and a walkwire across Moonbeam Creek in South Westland's Waitaha valley.

However, most grants would be under $5000.

He hoped some groups would use the funding as ''leverage'' to attract more money from charitable funding bodies or donations in order to tackle more ambitious projects.

NZDA Southern Lakes branch president David Rider said it would apply for funding to maintain two huts the branch managed in the upper Wakatipu, the Upper Caples and mid Greenstone Track huts.

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