Trail boss moving on
Retiring Queenstown Trails Trust chairman Terry Stevens remembers well the day he took over from previous chairman John Wilson who had held the chairmanship for six years.
"I thought 'shoot me if I'm around that long'. Then all of a sudden five years had passed."
In fact he probably would have stepped down earlier but after four years of planning and promising, his final year in office has seen the trust tick off its main achievements to date - $6 million in funding, the completion of the Queenstown Trail and the purchase of the Motatapu event.
But Mr Stevens is not a man to claim all the credit. He points to chief executive Kaye Parker whose drive and incredible fundraising talents made the trails possible, hands-on patron Sir Eion Edgar who put his money where his mouth was and nine hard-working trustees.
"It's a really good team we've got together, " he said.
However, he has been instrumental in the achievements of the trust.
When he first stepped into office he quickly established fundraising needed to be a priority. With many worthy applicants applying for the trust's chief executive position, Mrs Parker and her valuable fundraising experience at Cure Kids, became the obvious choice.
A bigger challenge was reaching agreements with almost 20 landowners on easements to ensure the trail was the best it could be.
"We could have run it along other places but to get it in the best sites we needed to get the co-operation of landowners, " he said.
The next project was ensuring the trail was nurtured and marketed and its quality sustained. More income was required and the large funders were not offering more.
Trustees considered starting a fundraising event that would provide ongoing income but the need for something established and likely to enjoy long-term success led them to approach the Motatapu event owners.
With obvious synergies including walking, cycling and running the event was an easy fit and there are future opportunities to expand, whether by including events on the Queenstown Trail on the weekend of Motatapu or working with landowner Matt Lange.
Mr Stevens, a former pharmaceuticals businessman and his wife Susan moved to Gibbston from the United States in 1999 and both quickly become involved in the community.
"We really both feel very lucky to be here. We feel we really should give something back and we're in a position to do that as we're both retired."
Trails became a big part of their life and Mrs Stevens was recognised last year with a QSM for her role as Gibbston Community Association chairwoman overseeing the creation of the Gibbston River Trail, skirting the Kawarau River.
For Mr Stevens the Queenstown Trail has been a passion.
"From the tourism standpoint there's no doubt there's a real plus but what drives me is the young people out there using it, mothers pushing prams, groups of people and men on bikes, " he said.
"It really is a community playground. It's as important as a rugby field or events centre."
The couple will spend more time on their own trust, The Grateful Citizens Society, focused on supporting heritage and access to heritage sites.
"We've had a good run and I'm proud of what we've achieved, " Mr Stevens said.
The trust meeting tonight will choose a new chairperson.
- The Mirror