October target for cycle trail
Southland District Council's Around the Mountains cycle trail is expected to open by Labour Weekend, even though construction will not begin for at least another month.
Venture Southland community development group manager Rex Capil said the majority of the trail should be operating by October 2013, although work on the project had not yet started.
Mr Capil had originally hoped work would be started before Christmas but said this had always been subject to the timing of paperwork.
He now expected construction to begin in about a month, when government signed off on the final plans.
''[We are] still aiming for Labour Weekend 2013, but it'll put the pressure on.''
The trail will take cyclists from Walter Peak near Queenstown through Northern Southland to Kingston.
An alternative route for a section of the trail between the Mt Nicholas Rd bridge and a proposed Oreti suspension bridge had yet to be developed, after resource consent for the section was declined in 2012.
Discussions on the new route would resume once construction work was underway on the rest of the trail, but Mr Capil could not predict when the final layout would be decided.
He believed, once completed, the trail would tap into a market of predominantly middle-aged tourists hungry for more cycle spots like the rail trail in Central Otago.
''The feedback from the Otago Central Rail Trail is 'where's the next one?'.
''That's where the Around the Mountains has got the jump on other [attractions].''
The trail's promiximity to Queenstown Airport, which hosted international flights, would also help attract Australian tourists, he said.
The Southland Times