Hope rests on cycleway

16:00, Mar 17 2010

The national cycleway is being tipped as the "saving grace" for the struggling West Coast town of Kumara as its only shop faces closure.

In its goldmining heyday in the 1870s, Kumara had a population of more than 4000 and an estimated 50 pubs.

Now, the town on State Highway 73 has only a few hundred residents, and its pubs and petrol station have all closed.

Lionel and Jeanette Barnes are retiring from running the Kumara Store and Tearooms, and the shop could close unless a new lessee or owner is found.

Westland Mayor Maureen Pugh said inclusion in the national cycleway project could revive the town's fortunes.

"Kumara seems to be on a bit of roll in terms of business decline," she said.


"I guess it's a sign of the times, but [the shop] has been a great support to the local community. When you live that far from a main centre, you rely heavily on the local store."

The shop was "critical" to providing a postal service for Kumara, she said.

Last month, the Westland Wilderness Trail, which would go from Greymouth to Ross via Kumara, was one of 13 proposals chosen to potentially be part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail project.

Pugh said a technical assessor from the Ministry of Economic Development had driven the proposed cycle route last week and said its supporters were "on to a winner".

"I think this could be the saving grace for the town," she said.

A feasibility study of the cycle route is expected to be completed by May.

The Press