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A successful year for Ōpōtiki’s Mōtū Trails

A successful year for Ōpōtiki’s Mōtū Trails

23 December 2013

Rich in history and tracing the steps of Māori and early settlers, the Mōtū Trails start inŌpōtiki and carves their way through spectacular coastal, bush and hill country.

Work began on the track in 2010 and is one of 23 ‘Great Rides’ officially sanctioned under Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail Programme.

In three years, the track has made a name for itself for riders from around the country and Australia. This success has been outlined in an Evaluation Report released earlier this month by the Ministry for Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE).

The MBIE commissioned the indepth case studies focussing on four Great Rides: Hauraki Rail Trail, Mountains to Sea Trail, Queenstown Trails and the Mōtū Trails.

Data was collected during the first full peak summer season (December 2012 to April 2013) for all the cycle trails with the report noting that it is ‘still early days’. Overall, the study reported extremely positive results for the Mōtū Trails with excellent satisfaction ratings for track condition, signage, scenery and location, website and the technical levels of the rides chosen.

Ōpōtiki District Council’s Parks, Recreation & Tourism Manager, Mike Houghton said the report had provided some really useful feedback on the trails and the satisfaction ratings and many of the verbatim comments from users that were “absolutely glowing”.

“Over 96% of people who used the Mōtū Trails said they were ‘very likely’ or ‘likely’ to recommend the trail to others. This is a great endorsement of the work we have put in to make this trail one of the best in the country. In terms of the overall experience, the Mōtū Trails recorded the highest level of overall satisfaction of the four trails,” Mr Houghton said.

The report also indicated that there were areas where the trails could have more impact on their supporting communities as the main economic impact is predominantly felt by businesses that are well-positioned in and around the trail.

“There is strong community support, goodwill and engagement with existing businesses and there are both new and diversified businesses that are benefiting from the Trail.

“Some of the feedback provided in the survey indicated that visitors would like to see more supporting services around the trails (things like accommodation, food, bike hire and so on). With the estimated economic contribution for the four month period around $245,000, there is certainly more opportunity to grow this tourism asset even further.

“The report suggests that local businesses are ‘adopting a wait and see attitude’, temporarily stretching resources to accommodate a short-term increase in demand while waiting until benefits are proven before investing further. And yet visitors using the tracks, almost without fail, said that the track was amazing and a real asset to the town.

“To me this looks like a classic chicken and egg situation – we need to get businesses supporting the trail network so that more people use the trails and those businesses serving the region. This is a real opportunity for the town to bring new business to the area and make the most of our nationally recognised asset,” Mr Houghton said.

Work continues on the Mōtū Trails and there are small and large projects constantly underway to improve existing trails or extend them into new areas.

In the New Year, work is scheduled to commence on the ‘missing link’, an 800m section atTirohanga joining up the middle portion of the 22km (return) Dunes Trail. This section, along Tirohanga Bluff, is to be built on Department of Conservation land alongside Māori land. Much of the land around the site is sacred and Council, Mōtū Trails Charitable Trust, Māori landowners and other stakeholders have worked closely to ensure that the trail location and construction respects the wāhi tapu. The new section will include an extension to the trail, a bridge and a boardwalk and work is expected to begin early in 2014.

ENDS

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