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Prime Minister John Key put his money where his mouth is after opening the harbourside walk and cycleway in Oamaru yesterday.
The promoter of the Great Rides of New Zealand national cycleway, Mr Key showed he could handle the physical side of the $50 million project by taking a chopper bike for a short spin along the new 1.3km walk and cycleway, which links Oamaru's historic precinct to the Oamaru Harbour.
While forgoing using a safety helmet, he took up the challenge of one of the cyclists on the "Great Oamaru Seaside Cycle Ride" to sample about 50m of the track, which delighted the crowd of about 1000.
Mr Key joined the Oamaru community in celebrating the opening of the Wansbeck St extension, which links to the end of Holmes Wharf, and the walk and cycleway, which runs from Humber St to the penguin colony.
Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton opened the street extension, and Mr Key the walk and cycleway, during an afternoon carnival that started with an Empire Day celebration concert in Harbour St and included free train rides, a market, entertainment and competitions for decorated bike and best-dressed cycle and rider.
The harbourside walk and cycleway is the final section of the proposed Alps to Ocean cycleway, which is undergoing a feasibility study.
Mr Key said the harbourside walk and cycleway was part of the much larger 340km-long project that would start at Mt Cook, go through the Mackenzie country, across the Waitaki hydro dams and end at the Oamaru Harbour.
"It will be a great way to showcase New Zealand.
"It's also a wonderful opportunity for New Zealanders to get out and ride across some of the most beautiful countryside and see the very best of New Zealand."
Mr Familton said the 185m Wansbeck St extension and the walk and cycleway, which cost $788,000, was the first stage in the redevelopment of the Oamaru Harbour.