Dunes Trail completion “a fantastic achievement”
Dunes Trail completion “a fantastic achievement”“It’s a fantastic achievement to complete this new section of trail,” said Richard Leggat, Chair of The New Zealand Cycle Trail, after attending the Motu Trails opening at Tirohanga near Opotiki.
“The new section of trail highlights the collaboration between all the governance groups involved — in particular the Whakatohea iwi for their generosity in allowing the trail to run through a sacred area,” said Mr Leggat, who travelled down from Auckland for the event.
After the 7am karakia and blessing, and 8am opening, Mr Leggat spent an hour digging holes and planting trees, as part of the Project Crimson community planting day led by Gordon Hosking. Then it was onto the bikes for a rather wet and muddy ride to the eastern end of the Dunes Trail, and the start of the Motu Road Trail.
The opening was a great success, with Robert Edwards, Chair of Whakatohea Maori Trust Board opening the speeches by talking about the significance of the area.
Opotiki Mayor John Forbes and Gisborne Mayor Meng Foon spoke, as did Mr Leggat, and BOP Regional Council Chair Doug Leeder.
Local MP Anne Tolley also addressed the audience, and then marked the trail opening with the planting of a commemorative pohutukawa.
Some 5000 trees were planted along the sides of the trail, overlooked by trees planted three years ago that in recent months have shot up to around 1.5m high.
The morning was damp, but DoC, Opotiki Council and BOP regional council had erected plenty of marquee cover to keep everyone dry.
“From a Nga Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail perspective, the Motu Trails are special. They are essentially three trails in one, so they provide the visitor with a wonderful diversity of experiences,” said Mr Leggat.
“It would be great to see the stories about the area shared with visitors, so that when people come to the Motu Trails, it is about far more than just a cycling experience.”
In a New Zealand first, the 900m of new trail heads onto the beach under the Tirohanga bluff. Two soaring pou, erected on Saturday and facing east and west, mark the significance of the area.
The Dunes Trail is now fully open, the realization of the Motu Trails vision that was conceived in 2010. With some 11km of trail winding along the dunes, only touching the sealed access driveway briefly at Hikuwai, the number of trail users is expected to increase further from the 17,000+ counts recorded at Hikuwai in the year to April 2014.