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Whale Trail funding announced

Media release

27 June 2019

Whale Trail funding announced

A new cycle and walking trail stretching 200 kilometres from Picton to Kaikōura has a new name and government funding.

The Whale Trail has been in the planning stage since the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake. Its name is a nod to the enormous success of the whale watching industry in Kaikōura and the historic importance of whaling in the Marlborough Sounds. It also mirrors the whales’ migratory path, which the trail will follow down the East Coast of the South Island.

Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today that the project had received a significant cash injection, with $322,000 allocated from the Provincial Growth Fund, to enable a technical study to be completed.

Marlborough Kaikōura Trail Trust chair, Luke van Velthooven, said:

“On behalf of the Trust, I’m delighted that the Government has seen the potential of the Whale Trail and has allocated this critical funding to undertake the technical study. It builds on the generous support already received from the Rata Foundation.”

“Our vision is a world-class cycle trail that offers exceptional recreational experiences while providing wide-ranging and long-lasting benefits for our communities,” added van Velthooven.

KiwiRail, iwi, the Marlborough and Kaikōura district councils and the New Zealand Transport Agency will be key partners, he said.

Marlborough Mayor John Leggett has welcomed the news.

“I’m very pleased that the Government’s Provincial Growth Fund has come on board - this is testament to the drive of the Trust’s members and recognises the support that the project has received in our community.

“In 2017, Marlborough District Council gave $50,000 to fund an initial study, which estimated a trail from Picton to Kaikōura could pump more than $100 million into the Marlborough economy over the next 20 years.”

Kaikōura Mayor Winston Gray said:

“This is fantastic news. Kaikōura District Council believes the trail could become an iconic journey and a ‘must do’ for residents as well as domestic and international tourists.

“Our coast has drawn people to Kaikōura for generations and to see plans developing for an experience that allows people to connect with its stories and its beauty is really exciting.

“It’s also really great to see the Trust taking steps to work with everyone involved including communities, iwi, Councils and the Government. That way the Trust can make sure plans reflect what people want and respect the history and significance of the area,” Gray said.

Notes for Editors

The Whale Trail will connect the communities of Picton, Blenheim, Seddon, Ward, Kekerengu, Clarence and Kaikōura and is expected to provide economic opportunities and stimulus to these communities, and complement the Government’s major Provincial Growth Fund investment announced for KiwiRail’s Coastal Pacific Rail service late last year.

The Trail will be accessible for a diverse range of ages and abilities, including families.

The Marlborough Kaikōura Trail trustees are property consultant/director and Rowing NZ national selector Luke van Velthooven; Dr John Forrest, a well-known wine industry figure; Margaret Cooney, commercial strategy advisor; Sank Macfarlane, owner of The Store in Kekerengu; former Port Marlborough chief executive Ian McNabb; environmental designer Cynthia Stoks and Kauahi Ngapora, general manager of Whale Watch Kaikōura. Former Rātā Foundation chief executive Louise Edwards and Sport Tasman chief executive Nigel Muir are also serving as trustees.

The Trust’s mission is “to develop thriving communities by building, managing and promoting an outstanding new trail network.”

The Trust’s next step is to engage parties to undertake the technical study, to create an accurate alignment of where the trail will go and understand its geographical and physical challenges.

Further information:



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