This weekend's official opening of the Nelson to Mapua section of Tasman's Great Taste Cycle Trail sees the trail rolling closer to Motueka.
Mapua Ferry owner-operator Andrew Schwass said 250 to 300 people a day rode the trail from Richmond to Mapua over the summer holiday season.
Figures had dropped now but around 350 riders took the ferry from Rabbit Island to Mapua last Sunday.
"But when we get the Mapua to Kaiteriteri section open we'll get the people from Australia and it will be a real tourist trail."
He said the feedback from cyclists to the current trail routes was amazing.
"When this trail's finished it will be one of the biggest in New Zealand."
The Great Taste Cycle Trail's three different sections, of the coastal route to Kaiteriteri, the Motueka Valley ride and the rail and tunnel section to Kohatu were unique, he said.
"All we need is for people to start buying bits of virtual trail to help out."
Andrew said he would be offering half price ferry rides for cyclists on Saturday as part of the Nelson to Mapua opening.
John Kerridge, who chairs Motueka's $800 Group, said the cycle trail would get more use, publicity and attract more international attention when the 175-km loop from Nelson to Kohatu, Motueka/Kaiteriteri and back to Nelson was finished.
The Riwaka Bridge was open for public use and the focus was now on opening the cycle trail from Riwaka to Kaiteriteri by the end of June at the latest.
The Nelson Tasman Cycle Trails Trust hoped to have the Mapua to Motueka section officially completed in the same time period, he said.
It would take about another six months to complete the whole circuit, John said.
Once that was done the focus would shift to attracting international riders.
He said fundraising by the $800 Group was slow but once the trail was open and people realised the opportunities the project would be on a roll.
- © Fairfax NZ News