Trail-blazers give thumbs up
The route might not have the final letter of approval - but who cares about the paperwork when you can take in some amazing country on a cycle ride between Mapua and Kaiteriteri.
Jonathan Kennett, the project manager for the NZ Cycle Trails rode the route last week on his final inspection with Dugald Ley, Tasman District Council's cycle trail project manager, and Stuart Hughes, the Nelson Tasman Cycle Trail Trust's project manager.
The fresh snow-sharpened wind off the Arthur Range did not chill Jonathan's enthusiasm for the track which meanders through Kaiteriteri's sandy coves and bush, Riwaka's farms and river, Motueka's coastline and the scenic roller-coaster ridgeline ride between the Moutere Valley and the Moutere Estuary.
"It's rideable now," Jonathan said. "It just needs a bit of fine tuning."
Along with checking the signage was up to scratch for those new to the area, Jonathan also checked grades, trail surfaces and the availability of toilets.
The easier trails were to ride the more people who rode them, he said.
It was not Jonathan's first visit to the region, he has previously ridden between Richmond and Kaiteriteri and Richmond and Wakefield to check on progress and sign off on completed sections.
He could only rave about the experience and the changes he has seen.
"This section has really been transformed from what I saw six months ago," he said of the Kaiteriteri to Mapua trail.
"The other thing I have experienced on the Tasman trail is the number of really good cafes and shops - which is what you would expect to experience on the Great Taste Cycle Trail.
"The number of businesses which have engaged with the project is the main strength of this region's trail. You have 170 businesses signed up now - more than any other trail in the country."
Stuart and Dugald said many landowners had been especially accommodating - offering to move fences and supplying machinery to carry out the work so the trail could get o away from roads.
Jonathan said he had seen similar community support in the other trails he was involved with around the country.
He hoped Tasman District Council would be successful in gaining some Government funding to help complete its trail.
"Finished ones always return more to the local economy."
The Hauraki Rail Trail, near Waihi, had returned some $5.2 million into the local economy in its first 12 months of operation, he said.
"After all - all cyclists need is a hot shower, good food, a warm bed and cold beer," Jonathan said.
"And good wine," Stuart added as the trio headed downhill from the Tasman View summit with the wind behind them.
Jonathan would write his final report on the Mapua to Kaiteriteri route this week.
The Nelson Mail