Walkway showcases 'best of city'

RACHEL YOUNG
Last updated 15:58 15/05/2014

A flyover video depicting the 130-kilometre Great Perimeter Track circling Christchurch.

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Christchurch will miss out on a great tourism opportunity if the council does not back a walkway stretching 130 kilometres around the city, says its creator.

Ecologist Colin Meurk has spent about 25 years developing and lobbying for money for a Great Perimeter Track.

Today, he once again lobbied the Christchurch City Council for $35,000 for help with signage, information boards and marketing.

The walkway connects the coast, volcanic hills, Christchurch streams, native bush, braided rivers, wetlands and the Waimakariri River.

"It's very diverse; it covers our best natural environment, but it also goes through suburbia and we pick up community gardens," Meurk said.

"It's to show and showcase the whole richness of our city and make it vibrant and alive, not only to its citizens, but to people coming in."

Meurk said the walkway would provide economic benefits to businesses, cafes and accommodation providers along the route.

"There are commercial opportunities. We see that along the way and it could be covered over many day walks. Some tourists may do a whole week and will use local bed and breakfasts."

The walkway, nicknamed Meurky's walk, complemented the city's existing natural assets, including Riccarton Bush, Travis Wetland Natural Heritage Park and the Port Hills.

Ultimately, he hoped to create a mobile app so people could learn about the biodiversity, culture and nature they saw as they walked or cycled the track.

In 2009, the walkway, developed by Meurk through a sub-committee of Sustainable Otautahi Christchurch, won the "top commitment by an organisation" category at the inaugural Golden Foot Awards.

That same year the council approved funding of $20,000 for the project in order to create signs and develop a guidebook.

That money was re-allocated after the earthquakes, and has never been given to Meurk.

Meurk hoped to launch the walkway in November with a weekend event involving an ultra-marathon, cycle and walk.

Meurk made the comments today during the second day of the council's Draft Annual Plan 2014/15 hearings.

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- The Press

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