Stage one due to open

EMMA DANGERFIELD
Last updated 05:00 05/12/2012

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Kaikoura

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The first phase in the next visitor attraction for Kaikoura is nearing completion and is already receiving positive feedback from mountain bikers.

A 60km track which will eventually lead from Ocean Ridge to Mt Fyffe, across to Hapuku and back to town, has been started, thanks to council funding and the hard work of a dedicated team of volunteers from the Kaikoura Cycle Club.

Mayor Winston Gray has been part of the work force and is excited about the prospects for the track, which he believes will appeal to cyclists in the area as well as the wider biking community.

Mr Gray said biking as a leisure activity had taken off in recent years, particularly around Christchurch, and Mr Gray thinks the Kaikoura track will be particularly attractive because it will suit all abilities.

"The beauty of it will be that you can drop out and go home at any time," he said. "We want to create lots of different routes through the forest areas and you'll be able to join up with any of the roads again if you want."

So far volunteers Andrew and Michelle Spencer, John Simpson, Marcus Ferreira and Dwayne Fussell have made good progress cutting a track by hand and carting gravel and other materials to the site over the past month. And with the help of master builder Matt Chambers, who thought outside the square to create some inventive river crossings, a full 16km of track can now be ridden from Ocean Ridge to Middle Ford Rd. Work will continue, although not much will be required, from there, along the stopbanks to Mt Fyffe with the eventual plan of a 60km route to be worked out as time allows.

The track completed so far is flat and suitable for walkers as well as bikers of any ability and Mr Gray said he was looking forward to seeing families picnicking along the way. Eventually, it is hoped tables will be set up at scenic spots.

The track could also be used for events, which would further boost the town, he said.

Horse-riding will be discouraged because the track surface is sandy in some parts and large animals would damage it. Mr Gray said he hoped to have some discussion with horse riders in the area to get co-operation, and he also hoped motocross bikes would respect the track and not use it either.

The Kaikoura Cycle Club secured $20,000 funding from the council as part of the long-term plan process. To date, $6000 has been spent on the work.

Mr Gray said an open day was planned for Sunday, December 9, to officially open the track and the whole town would be invited to come and see it.

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- Kaikoura Star

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