Mackenzie mute on cycleway

The Mackenzie District Council has relinquished all promotional duties for the Alps-to-Ocean cycleway to its Waitaki counterparts.

The announcement has been on the cards for some time, after Mackenzie's councillors agreed to fund $125,000 towards the trail's maintenance over the next three years, but balked at matching Waitaki's $300,000 in promotion and development.

Tourism Waitaki general manager Hugh Packer confirmed it was looking for someone to oversee the 310km Aoraki-Mt Cook-to-Oamaru trail's marketing.

"Ideally, we want someone to start as soon as possible," Mr Packer said.

‘There's a lot of work to be done, and we've got to get a booking website up and running. Until recently, it's largely been driven by volunteers."

Mr Packer said the website would be able to arrange bookings for cycle tours, while local businesses would also be able to become "commercial partners" on the trail. The Government has pledged $2.75 million towards the trail in 2010.

Alps-to-Ocean joint committee chairman Mike Neilson said sections around the bottom of Lake Ohau, from Lake Ohau Lodge to Quailburn and from Quailburn Road to Omarama were under construction.

"The trail's first stage, which is 123km, will be newly constructed trail. There is 187kmof trail which uses existing road such as the canal roads," he said," he said.

"Of the trail to be built, 56 per cent is either complete or under construction."

Mr Packer said Tourism Waitaki had to take over the promotion of the trail, as the Mackenzie District Council had disestablished its tourism trust earlier this year - although it kept funding for economic development around the same rate as previous years (about $215,000 to $250,000).

Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton said both councils still fully intended to put the same amount of funding towards the trail's maintenance.

"Mackenzie and Waitaki are still determined to work together [on the cycleway] as the demand requires," he said.

"The Alps to Ocean cycleway is a great fit for the Waitaki Tourism Board. It should be a happy marriage."

It is understood the Mackenzie council has held talks with interested parties.

The council will work towards establishing a newly structured trust in the coming months.

South Canterbury