Bicycle trail rewards

Last updated 08:20 12/11/2012

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OPINION: After two years of construction, the 110-kilometre Queenstown Cycle Trail is now open, writes Bill English (National) in From the Beehive.

I was at the official opening a last month and was struck by what a wonderful community project it is.

The Queenstown Trail is a joint initiative of the Queenstown Trails Trust, the Queenstown Lakes District Council and the New Zealand Cycle Trail project.

It has been funded with support from national and local government, community trusts, private sponsorship and community fundraising.

The Government provided $2 million for the project and the community secured the other $3.2m.

The Queenstown community took this idea and ran with it. They worked tirelessly to push the trail through, securing private and public easements from about 24 landowners, raising funds and providing volunteer labour.

The development of this trail, including its fundraising programme, is a great showcase for what a small community can achieve and should inspire others, like those involved in Southland's Around the Mountain Trail.

Progress has been slow on this trail, but other trails show the benefits of proceeding.

Both of these trails are part of the Government's $50m nationwide cycle trail initiative, promoted to encourage regional and economic development, tourism growth and job creation.

I was lucky enough to be one of the first to cycle a small segment of the Queenstown Trail at its opening and enjoyed first hand the thrill of this new trail.

I believe it will become a great asset for the region, offering new income streams and new activities for visitors outside of the peak summer and winter seasons.

Of course, we only have to look across the region to see the massive economic benefits the Central Otago Rail Trail has brought to towns like Alexandra and Omakau.

No doubt over time, similar benefits will also be enjoyed in Wakatipu, just as the Around the Mountains trail in Southland, set for construction by Christmas, will also stimulate growth in places like Mossburn, Lumsden and Kingston.

These cycle trails are set to achieve exactly what the Government anticipated, by benefiting communities and promoting economic growth across the country and, at the same time, showcasing our country.

» Bill English is the electorate MP for Clutha-Southland.

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