Bid to move section of Alps 2 Ocean

The newest section of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail from Sailors Cutting (pictured) to Benmore dam...
The newest section of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail from Sailors Cutting (pictured) to Benmore dam is still not benefiting Otematata. PHOTO: REBECCA RYAN
Ahururi leaders are banding together in a bid to move a section of the Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail through Otematata.

The trail runs through Waitaki Valley towns, including Omarama, Kurow and Duntroon, but Otematata has been missed since the trail’s inception in 2013.

The new 16km section from Sailors Cutting to Benmore Dam proceeds around outskirts of Otematata, but cyclists have to backtrack down the other side of the lake to get into town.

Ross McRobie. Photo: ODT files
Ross McRobie. Photo: ODT files
Ahuriri Community Board chairwoman Vicky Munro is a partner in Rostriever Run, which part of the new trail goes through. Mrs Munro said access was allowed on the basis it would help Otematata, but this was not the case as cyclists did not visit the town.

"I’m particularly disappointed that the local farmers have allowed this access, and gone through the negotiation process for the community, and it’s not benefiting our community," Mrs Munro said.

She was "horrified" when she saw 15 cyclists travelling across the Aviemore Dam mid-afternoon, without coming through Otematata.

"That’s what [cycle trails] were built for, to support the local community, and it’s definitely not supporting our community."

Moving the track was a hot topic at community board meetings, and there had been informal chats with Waitaki District Council staff.

"I would hope that they’re looking at possibilities to create a track on this side of Otematata," Mrs Munro said.

Ahuriri ward councillor Ross McRobie echoed Mrs Munro’s sentiments, and said town was not reaping the economic benefits.

"I don’t think it is fair. We are looking to create some more opportunities in Otematata for businesses, and in the cycling season that would just help tremendously," Cr McRobie said.

"I’ve been very supportive and in fact pushing it to make it happen to get that benefit now and in the future."

There had been good support to move the track too.

"It’s not going to happen in a year - it’s a bigger project than that.

"I think people can see that it does need to happen, but there is a cost issue associated with it."

Waitaki District Council recreation manager Erik van der Spek said the council wanted to see the trail go through Otematata, but needed to secure funding for it.

A business case was under development, to be completed this year, to assess the priorities.

However, Mr van der Spek, who was not involved in discussions with the landowners, said the new trail brought benefits to Otematata and last season was not a fair representation as it opened after tourism packages were released.

"Last season was very different as we had closed borders and the lack of foreign tourism in general bookings in Otematata would also have had an effect. I am aware of one large trail operator that is currently making inquiries around accommodation in Otematata," Mr van der Spek said.

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