Marlborough landowner urges others to open up access for Coastal Pacific Trail
The entrepreneur behind a new freedom camping system has thrown his support behind the proposed Coastal Pacific Trail between the Marlborough Sounds and Christchurch.
Chris Wagner, the owner of Riverlands Roadhouse south of Blenheim, is opening up his land for the trail and wants others along the length of the proposed route to do the same.
"If people are aware of it now, and they start planning and help support the guys with what they're trying to do, it's going to be better for everyone," he said.
"If everyone got behind it there would be hundreds of businesses that would benefit. It's a golden tourism cash cow, and people need to jump on board."
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The truck stop owner hit the headlines last month when he launched KiwiCamp, an initiative where travellers use a card linked to an online profile to activate campground facilities.
Wagner planned to help build and maintain a section of the proposed trail on his property that would run alongside State Highway 1, before turning towards Redwood Pass Rd leaving Blenheim.
Since it was raised in January, the proposed 450-kilometre long combined walking and cycling trail between the Marlborough Sounds and Christchurch has attracted huge support.
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But translating that into action on the ground has been another thing altogether. Wagner said it was important landowners along the route stepped in to make sure it happened.
He pointed to the success of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail, between Aoraki/Mount Cook and Oamaru, as evidence of the economic boon a similar trail could have for Marlborough.
"The reason I'm pro-trail is because I've seen what it did down south, I don't think the local population realise what a big deal it could be for the region," he said.
"I'm really impressed with the guys that are doing it - they deserve credit and I'll do anything I can to help them succeed."
Wagner planned to put in bike racks if the trail went ahead, and he also expected an influx of people staying at his property, or just stopping at the cafe located onsite.
Dr John Forrest, who first proposed the idea and is heading up a Coastal Pacific Trail working group, said the project depended on people opening up their land and helping.
"We know the importance of working co-operatively and responsibly with members of the community to make this happen for the good of everyone in the community," he said.
"There are lots of other people that have acted similarly [to Wagner], and we need that to continue to happen for this to go ahead."
Forrest said the group was already in talks with some landowners, and had been busy identifying the best option and alternative options to get the trail down to Kaikoura.
There had been a phenomenal amount of support so far, and Forrest said it was a matter of securing funding and help from councils, central Government and private enterprises.
The group was in the process of forming a trust, and had been working on an application to the Marlborough District Council to secure some funding.
- The Marlborough Express