40,000 might use Alps to Ocean cycleway annually

Stephen Halliwell
Stephen Halliwell
The Alps to Ocean cycleway which will wind through North Otago and the Mackenzie Basin could eventually attract more than 40,000 visitors a year, a report says.

Based on what cyclists using the Otago Central Rail Trail spend each day on average, that could inject almost $5 million a year into local economies.

The Alps to Ocean has received a $2.75 million grant from the Government towards the estimated $3.25 million it will cost to build, leaving the establishment committee to find the remaining $500,000.

The committee hopes to have the cycleway operating late next year.

More details on the venture are contained in a report on progress on the Alps to Ocean trail, prepared for Wednesday's meeting of the Waitaki District Council's corporate services committee.

It says agreement has been reached with property owners along the route to have the cycleway pass through their land.

"To that extent, the proposed cycleway route is a `green light' in its entirety," council corporate services manager Stephen Halliwell said.

The route goes from Mt Cook to Twizel, then to Ohau Lodge, Omarama, Otematata and follows the north side of Lake Aviemore to Kurow and Duntroon.

From Duntroon, it goes over to the Waiareka Valley, along part of the old Ngapara railway line - including through two tunnels - then through Weston, before finishing at Oamaru Harbour's blue penguin colony.

Mr Halliwell said the market for the cycleway was directly related to the ability of cyclists.

The cycleway was suitable for novice to experienced riders and provided an experience incorporating the spectacular scenery, plus cultural and historical elements.

It fitted neatly with services and tourist flows in the region, providing access points at Twizel, Omarama, Otematata, Kurow and Duntroon for day visitors.

Assessments estimated 3000 several-day visitors and 10,000 single-day visitors in the first year of the cycleway, rising to 22,560 several-day and 20,000 one-day visitors in the fifth year.

The only limitation identified at this stage was the ability of accommodation at some points to cope beyond the first year.

It was anticipated nearby farms would diversify by providing visitor accommodation, similar to what had happened with the Otago Central rail trail.

If there were accommodation shortages in the early years, providers in other centres could shuttle riders to and from the cycleway.

One of the keys to future success was establishing a credible, accountable and representative governance structure.

The establishment committee was investigating various options, Mr Halliwell said.

- david.bruce@odt.co.nz


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