Key pledges $8m cash boost for cycle trail

JOHN EDENS
Last updated 05:00 01/03/2014

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Prime Minister John Key yesterday announced a pre-Budget $8 million injection during four years to boost the expanding New Zealand Cycle Trail, including southern trails.

The cycle trail Great Rides project, a joint effort between the Government and the Green Party, has grown significantly.

Speaking in Queenstown, Mr Key said contestable funding was available for the national network and $500,000 was available for Queenstown-based Around the Mountains cycle tours.

The Around the Mountains trail, a joint project between the Government and Southland District Council, is partly finished and will run from Walter Peak to Kingston via Mavora.

"The New Zealand Cycle Trail is a valuable tourism asset for New Zealand and it is important that they maintain their high-quality reputation . . . " Mr Key said.

The funding for Around the Mountains means the Southland District Council can finish stage-one construction to include Athol township before winter.

Southland DistrictMayor Gary Tong said the boost alleviated land tenure issues and allowed the most important aspects of the project, Athol's economy and safety considerations for the trail, to proceed. "It's 100 per cent better than the trail would have been before. They will going through . . . Athol, it'll allow people to have a coffee, something to eat and maybe stay."

Initial funding was based on a design that toured through Flagstaff Station using an existing designated road, but that route meant cyclists did not follow a trail alongside the Kingston Flyer.

A dispute over land access made the proposed route impractical so the Government was asked to consider using the railway corridor and run the cycle trail through Athol.

Stage one of the trail from Kingston to Lumsden and Mossburn is expected to be finished by May, then stage two, from Mossburn to Walter Peak via Mavora Lakes, by the end of December next year.

Contestable funding of $2m a year for four years will be available to the managers of Great Ride trails to help maintain trail quality if they need improvements or repairs.

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