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Environment Canterbury proposal for cycle trail

December 18, 2009
MEDIA STATEMENT

Environment Canterbury submits proposal for National Cycle Trail

Environment Canterbury today submitted a concept proposal for a cycle trail to form part of the Nga Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail – one of the Government’s initiatives to boost employment and economic development across New Zealand.

The proposed trail, currently named The Southern Alpine-Pacific Cycle Trail, extends from Arthur’s Pass to Brooklands Lagoon, a distance of 155 km. The route runs parallel in places to the Midland Line railway almost as far as Springfield, then along the south bank of the Waimakariri River within the Waimakariri River Regional Park, owned by Environment Canterbury.

Cycling from Arthur’s Pass the route would take three to four days on a generally downhill gradient. Townships such as Arthur’s Pass, Springfield, and Darfield are well placed to provide accommodation, meals and other services for visitors.

“Trail users would be able to enjoy some of the best scenery Canterbury and New Zealand has to offer in Arthur’s Pass National Park, the Waimakariri Basin and along the south bank of the Waimakariri River says Environment Canterbury Selwyn/Banks Peninsula councillor Eugenie Sage.

The application to the Ministry of Tourism for engineering feasibility funding to carry the concept to the next stage of development is being led by Environment Canterbury. The Selwyn District Council, Kiwirail, the Department of Conservation, local land owners, business and community groups have encouraged Environment Canterbury to lead the application. A working group of these key stakeholders helped to complete the application.

Environment Canterbury councillor Sir Kerry Burke, who first raised the concept of the mountains to the sea trail, had a key role in the application.

“The trail has the potential to attract domestic and international visitors and create new business and employment opportunities in townships. From our perspective the proposal ticks all the boxes in terms of what the Ministry of Tourism and the Prime Minister are aiming to achieve,” says Sir Kerry.

Selwyn District councillor John Morten has also been involved in the preparation of the application.

“We predict the cycle trail will create seasonal employment and bring in over $1.3m a year in extra tourism revenue to the region. It would encourage a more active enjoyment of the great outdoors as well as showcasing the marvellous Selwyn and Canterbury scenery. It truly is a win-win opportunity all round.”

“A major selling point from an international tourist’s perspective is the trail’s convenience. Arthur’s Pass and the route back to the city is a classic example of the 100% Pure New Zealand brand that visitors to New Zealand are looking for, yet it is only two hours by car or three hours by train from an international airport,” says Cr Morten.

“There is a good opportunity to integrate the marketing of the cycle trail with existing tourism operations such as the world famous TranzAlpine Railway. What better holiday experience could one have than to catch the train to Arthur’s Pass, hire a bike and then your time riding back to Christchurch, enjoying beautiful alpine views, braided rivers and tussocklands.”

The outcome of the Ministry of Tourism’s review of all applications for engineering feasibility funding is due for announcement on February 1, 2010.

ENDS

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