Cycleway cash money well spent, says Key
Riders have christened Central Otago and Clutha's newest trails cheered on by the Prime Minister.
John Key, accompanied by deputy Prime Minister Bill English and Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean, officially opened the Roxburgh Gorge and Clutha Gold Trails yesterday.
About 50 riders rode the trails as part of a day-long celebration.
Mr Key said the trails were the 13th of 23 cycleways to be completed around the country and would be a "legacy asset" for the region.
The $50 million the Government had invested in the cycleways initiative, including injecting $5.8m to the newly-opened trails, was "money well spent".
The goal would be to build on work already done, maintain the cycleways and have new businesses "popping up".
"In the years to come literally tens of thousands of visitors will be cycling along here eating some cherries, chewing on apricots and potentially guzzling on some pinot noir in their bottle which they will pretend is some energy drink they are actually having."
Central Otago District Council Mayor Tony Lepper, who rode the gorge trail, said he thought it was superb. "It is even better than I thought it was going to be. I have only done half of it before and I think it going to be very family friendly. All sorts of people are going to be able to use it."
The cycle trail concept had been thought of before the Government had come on board, and the Otago Central rail trail was transforming small towns, he said.
Clutha Gold Charitable Trust chairman Rod Peirce thanked the landowners for their generosity, some of whom were apprehensive about the "intrusion" trails would bring.
"Many now use the trail, walking or biking. We are sure as time passes the intrusion will diminish. Cyclists and walkers are not a noisy bunch and, like the landowners, want a tranquil experience."
He hoped the trails would "forestall the rapid decline" of rural towns in the region.
Roxburgh Gorge Charitable Trust chairman Stephen Jeffery said the trail's construction had been complex requiring geotechnical reports, archeological assessments, resource consents and "a multitude of other considerations" - but the struggle was worth it.
"The gorge trail is truly stunning and offers a visual experience unique to Central Otago.
"The harsh landscape sets this trail apart from any other in New Zealand, as do the multitude of heritage sites.
"Economically, the trail will enhance existing business in Alexandra and drive new businesses across the Teviot Valley.
‘There will also be benefits in community health and social wellbeing.
"Cycling is growing across New Zealand and the rest of the world - we can expect a bright future on the back of this fast growing recreational activity," Stephen Jeffery said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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