Cycle trail a winner - study

JO MCKENZIE-MCLEAN
Last updated 05:00 18/06/2014

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A $5.7 million cycle trail in the Cromwell Gorge connecting Cromwell and Clyde will contribute $1.4 million annually to local economy, a feasibility study says.

The 86-page study, undertaken by Southern Land, has recommended a grade 1-2 cycle trail be developed along the western shoreline of Lake Dunstan from Old Cromwell Town through Cairnmuir to Clyde.

It was one of four options explored and was the most "exciting, varied and most likely to create a memorable riding experience", the study says.

It says it will support 13 jobs and attract 30,000 visitors to the region in the first five years.

"The trail needs to be outstanding and distinctive if it is to meet the vision that has been set for it . . . At 40km this will be a great day ride. Short stop recreational opportunities exist for each end, from Bannockburn and Cornish Point or via water taxi to other points of interest."

With most of the route along currently inaccessible lake shore, the trail would open up a remote tract of arid Central Otago to visitors and locals.

"It will deliver a unique riding experience with sections of trail traversing majestic vertical rock faces just metres above Lake Dunstan. It will incorporate the Clyde Dam, gold mining history, tunnels and sheep farming."

The study estimates the number of cyclists and walkers who would use the trail for the first five years would be in excess of 55,000 - 30,000 of whom would be visitors to the area. Within the first five years of completion it was also expected to contribute $1.4 million annually to the economic value of Central Otago, the study says.

"The Cromwell Gorge Trail has the potential to become one of New Zealand's great cycling experiences."

Community and Trust chairperson Jacqui Rule said the findings from the study were a "giant step" in the process.

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- The Southland Times

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