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Contractors are expected to apply the finishing touches to the 4km section of the Clutha Gold Trail extension at Milton's northern exit shortly, making it the first completed stretch of a planned 63km from Lawrence to Waihola.
The trail already runs for 73km from Lawrence to Roxburgh, where it joins a further trail network extending into Central Otago.
Trail trust deputy chairman David Vollweiler said although visible progress on the $10million project might seem limited, that would change once negotiations with landowners reached fruition.
At that point, trail building would begin in earnest.
"Landowners have been very supportive in granting easements across their property, but formalising arrangements takes time, and resource consents will also require a bit of patience.
"We'd hope to be able to release a provisional route map by this Christmas , and see work on the ground well under way by next ."
Following the initial work, early indications were that the project should remain on budget, he said.
"The core funding is in place from the Provincial Growth Fund and Clutha District Council, and we're anticipating further funding from the New Zealand Cycle Trail. We'll be going out to tender very soon for further sections of the trail, so things are tracking well in that respect."
An 1863 toll house - originally located at Waihola Gorge and later at Clarendon - was just one of many potential heritage and landscape attractions on the new extension, Mr Vollweiler said.
"We're pretty excited about the next section we're planning to build.
`Unfortunately, I can't say much more than that, as we're just finalising arrangements with landowners."
Southern Land Co master trail designer Tim Dennis will continue to oversee the technical aspects of the project.