Cycle trail stage nears completion

The first stage of the Around the Mountain Cycle Trail is not far from completion, and planning for the opening celebrations is under way.

Southland District Mayor Gary Tong said bad weather had hindered work in recent weeks, but the first stage, from Kingston to Mossburn, would be completed in time for an official opening in Lumsden on October 31.

"The troops have been going leaps and bounds . . . there has been massive dedication [to get it finished]," he said.

The exact location of the celebration had not been confirmed but the Lumsden railway station area was cited as a possibility, Tong said.

"It's going to be a gala day-type event, a community event, with businesses and people keen to get involved."

There would be entertainment for children, bike rides, and sausage sizzles during the day.

Progress was being made on stage two of the trail, from Mossburn to Walter Peak, with a resource consent application to Environment Southland for a section of the trail in the area of the upper Oreti River being considered.

"We do have all the landowners' consent, which is fantastic."

Applications for funding were ongoing, he said.

At the beginning of his mayoralty, he asked for a "scoping report" to justify the trail.

Although that report was not released to the public, Tong said it resolved his concerns, and he had absolute faith in the project.

The council annual plan estimates the cost at $8.7 million.

The Government pledged $4.2m, on the condition it would be completed by the end of 2015.

The council received a $1m lotteries grant.

If the remaining $3.5m could not be raised, the council would fund the trail from reserves or loans. The annual plan states that using rates money would be considered only if all other options were exhausted.

The Southland Times