National award win celebrated by Gibbston community group

16:41, Feb 03 2011

Gibbston Community Association members shrieked with excitement when they won a national award, the group's chairman said yesterday.

The 100-member association won the Mitre 10 Community of the Year Award for work on the scenic $1.4 million Gibbston River Trail. Chairman Susan Stevens said the $5000 award would go towards more community development. Feedback from businesses suggested people were using the track, which opened last month, daily.

The group was investigating whether toilets would be provided along the 8.5km trail and finalising work for interpretive panels, she said. Members did not expect to win the title.

"When it was announced we all shrieked with excitement.

"We were so incredibly honoured to be recognised, it was just humbling," she said.

The accolade was part of the annual New Zealander of the Year Awards and was presented at a ceremony in Auckland. Gibbston beat two other organisations – the Canterbury Charity Hospital Trust and Great Barrier Island-based Aotea Family Support Group – for the title.

The track meanders through previously inaccessible private land and is spanned by 14 steel truss bridges, 12 wooden bridges and dotted with picnic tables and benches. Bridges cross 19th century goldmining sites and the project needed 10 easements across private land.

For six years, the association worked with the Department of Conservation, the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the Wakatipu Trails Trust to build the trail.

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