Riders on trail of regional success
Five cycles stood parked outside the Millers Flat swimming pool on at least one occasion last week. Not children's toys these, but trail bikes belonging to those who are experiencing the Clutha Gold Trail between Roxburgh and Lawrence and enjoying a cooling break on their journey.
They are passing travellers, who have just added another $25 to the income of the Baths Committee to ensure its on-going availability to the community, and another spin-off along the trail which is bringing benefits to all.
Just three months after their official opening a steady stream of riders and walkers are getting out and experiencing what some are describing as "mind-blowing" scenery on both the Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold Trails.
Lake Roxburgh Lodge owner Kim Winterbottom said she was almost booked out for the end of February as more groups were looking to cover both trails.
"Everyone who is coming through so far is raving about it," she said.
"They are finding the boat trip is a real part of the trip and not just a hiccup on the way through; it blows people away."
Husband Phil Winterbottom said the company was at least fifty per cent, if not 100 per cent, up on last year's bookings and while it was not all cyclists, the trails were definitely making a difference.
Bike It Now owner Kathryn Fletcher said many people who could not find accommodation to suit on consecutive nights across the Rail Trail were happy to consider the new trails as an alternative.
"At the moment we can find a range of accommodation but there may be issues long term in getting enough high-end places for people to stay."
She cited a family of six from Taranaki who had "the best family holiday ever" loving both the ride and activities such as gold panning on the way.
Visitors Centre manager Pam Broadhead did not release official figures on sales of purchased passports for the trail, or the $25 maintenance tag, but said visitors had no problem paying the fee.
Clutha Gold Trail chairman Rod Peirce said he kept hearing good things from those who had ridden the trail.
"Strong winds have created some problem with the odd willow fall which has needed cutting up and clearing but it has not blocked cyclists and they have reported any problems to the i-Sites."