Trail off to a great start

The first stage of the Tasman Great Taste Trail from Nelson to Mapua has been officially opened, with a ceremony at a new suspension bridge over the Waimea River.

The bridge was built by Kidson Construction and was unveiled on Saturday as the C.B. Kidson Bridge, named after managing director Brian Kidson.

General manager Matthew Kidson said his father had a great belief that things could be done and that logic and common sense could overcome difficulties.

"A bridge is a fitting metaphor," he said.

The Mayor of Tasman District, Richard Kempthorne, said the project had been a combined effort from the council, the government and the cycleways trust.

There was still work to be done, but he applauded the efforts of all those involved, particularly volunteers.

Nelson MP Nick Smith said the Tasman District Council had embraced the cycleways concept and had picked up a greater share of the funding than other areas had.

Through the New Zealand Cycle Trail Project, $50 million had been invested in creating 22 Great Rides nationwide and the Tasman Great Taste Trail was one of these.

The Government provided $2.14m towards the $3.18m cost of its first stage and is putting a further $150,000 towards the trail's continued development during the next financial year.

The 175km loop trail will be completed over several years, with the trail extending as far as Kaiteriteri and Tapawera.

Dr Smith also praised Kidson Construction for its engineering expertise.

The cycleway would encourage healthy lifestyles, provide economic opportunities and add to Nelson's reputation as an adventure tourism region.

Green Party MP Kevin Hague said cycleways had been a joint project between the Government and the Green Party, with both sides seeing the benefits to the environment, the economy and people's health.

The Nelson and Tasman region was fast becoming the national capital of cycling and the cycleway would only add to that.

Kaumatua Andy Joseph said he had just spent three weeks in Israel and, upon returning, he had realised "we live in a wonderful, wonderful country".

The cycle trail was "a jewel" that would be here forever, he said.

Nelson Tasman Cycle Trails Trust executive officer Fiona Newey said although there was plenty more work to get done, she was excited to see the first stage open.

"Lots of people when I first started were saying, ‘Oh that will never happen'."

After the ceremony, dozens of riders queued up for the chance to take a ride across the bridge. The maximum number of riders the bridge can carry is 10.

Rider Marcia Higgs said she thought the bridge was brilliant for the area.

"It's well worth a look. I encourage others to get out on their bikes."

Leigh Champion, of Stoke, was taking Sophie Kyle, 6, across to Mapua for a look at the trail.

"It's a long way for her. She's excited."

She was thrilled the trail had got to this stage.

"It's fantastic. The more bike trails, the better, I think."