Councils link on cycle trail

Waitaki District Council says it is pleased its Mackenzie counterparts have become "more involved in discussions" on the Alps to Ocean cycleway.

A report by Mackenzie District Council finance manager Paul Morris released on Tuesday argued that an initial business plan for the proposed company to run the 312km Aoraki-Mt Cook to Oamaru cycleway was short on detail and did not address any potential risks.

But Waitaki District Council's community services manager Thunes Cloete said yesterday the plan was still being developed.

"We want both councils to get the same level of information," he said.

Mr Cloete said the fact that Mackenzie had not previously appointed representatives on either the business or project committee for the cycleway meant they might not have had full access to the information.

"But they have now decided to appoint representatives for these committees, and this is a positive step," he said. "Ultimately, the cycleway is a joint partnership between the two councils, so we have to work out together how the duties will be shared."

The Government has pledged $2.75 million towards the cycle trail, but so far Mackenzie has agreed to fund only $125,000 of maintenance over the next three years.

In contrast, Waitaki has indicated it would spend more than $384,000 on the trail over the next two years, with about one-third of that going towards marketing. Tourism Waitaki will oversee the promotion of the trail. Phil Brownie, who is a member of the cycleway's project team, said about 60 per cent of the 312km trail would be on-road.

"The off-road trail passes through a mix of conservation land, farm-land and Crown land. It would be a good ride for hybrid bikes, it shouldn't be too difficult for most riders," he said.

Mr Brownie said 187km of the trail would use existing road such as the canal roads. Sections from Twizel to Lake Ohau (18.4km), Quailburn to Omarama (18.5km), Otematata to Kurow (33.7km), Kurow to Duntroon (22.7km) Duntroon to Windsor (15km) and Windsor to Weston (11.6km), which were all on-road, would be ready to ride for the Christmas holidays.

A new off-road section around the southern shore of Lake Ohau (8.8km) and a 4km off-road section around Omarama would also be rideable.

However, Mr Brownie said there would be more construction work occurring over the summer, and some of the signage might not be completed.

The Timaru Herald