Region looks to tourism benefits of co-ordinating 2500 km of tracks
A multi-council move to plan, develop and manage the Wellington region's off-road tracks and trails has been unveiled.
More than 12 months in the planning, the Wellington Regional Trails Framework, is supported by local authorities in the region, the Department of Conservation and the Wellington Regional Economic Agency.
A fully co-ordinated approach with the region's 2600 kilometres of tracks would enhance recreation opportunities for locals and attract tourists, Wellington's civic leaders say.
"It's big picture stuff," Upper Hutt mayor Wayne Guppy said.
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"By combining our efforts we can create unique opportunities not available elsewhere in the country," said Guppy, chair of the Regional Mayoral Forum which endorsed the Trails Framework in August.
Wellington mayor Justin Lester said the Trails Framework was a "unique and very exciting proposition".
"We need to take the next step and leverage the wellness and economic benefits to be realised by integrating our trails and alerting visitors and locals alike to the fantastic package of outdoor trail oriented opportunities that await them."
After setting up a steering group in 2016 the trails project has gathered support from local and central authorities and a range walking, tramping, cycling, horse riding and trail running organisations.
The region's existing trail network includes national walking and cycling tracks (Te Araroa and Rimutaka), two mountain bike parks and 1800km of shared use tracks.
A point of difference in the region is the diverse opportunities in easy acess of urban areas.
"Only in Wellington can you sip a latte by the harbour, take in a visit to Te Papa, stroll around Parliament grounds, do some shopping and then, within half an hour, find yourself spinning along the high trails of Makara Peak or Belmont Regional Park or stepping up to the Te Araroa trail," Lester said.
However problems existed with tracks managed by multiple entities with limited support services, infrastructure and marketing, the Framework said.
"This provides a high level approach for our territorial authorities and land managers," Wellington City's Community Partnerships Manager Sarah Murray said.
"It doesn't change anything in terms of the funding responsibility of the different agencies but the plan will help us realise the opportunities outlined.
"When it comes to land management, that still sits with the agency."
The Wellington Regional Trails Framework establishes three classes of trails.
Signature trails such as the Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park and the Rimutaka Cycle attract recognition for the region as a destination and are focal points for resident activity.
Regional Trails, including the Wainuiomata Trail project, eastern Hutt Hills and the Waikanae River Trail, form the core of the network for users looking for a less "populated" experience while local trails provide recreation options close to a user's home.
* Parties to the Wellington Regional Trails Framework are the Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council, Hutt City, Upper Hutt City Council, Porirua City Council, Kapiti Coast District Council, Masterton District Council, Carterton District Council and South Wairarapa District Council as well as the Department of Conservation and the Wellington Regional Development Agency.