New Manager for Tasman's Great Taste Trail
Cycling enthusiast Josh Aldridge has scored "possibly the best job, in the best place."
As new trail manager at the Nelson Tasman Cycle Trails Trust, the Auckland-born civil engineer has spent much of his first two weeks on the job exploring the "great rides" that he's now responsible for developing.
"It's an amazing ride," said Aldridge of the Dun Mountain trail; a 45 kilometre mountain bike loop east of Nelson city that he got under his belt on Monday afternoon. "It goes up to the Coppermine saddle which is about 900 metres above sea level, so it's beautiful to look across and see the snow on the mountains."
Aldridge moved to Nelson last week from Wellington, where he was working as a civil engineer/project manager at an engineering consultancy.
His initial focus would be on developing the Great Taste Trail, a 175-kilometre loop cycle and walkway through Nelson, Wakefield, the Motueka Valley and Mapua.
Most of the trail is grade 1 and 2; the easiest of five grades, making it suitable in most parts for families and novice cyclists.
About 113 kilometres of off-road trail has already been built.
"The vision for the Great Taste Trail is to have the whole thing off road," Aldridge said; "so the main priority is filling in the gaps."
Three projects had been prioritised for the next 12 months: developing a trail from Wakefield to Wai-iti, from Tahunanui Beach to the airport around the estuary, and from Norris Gully to Kohatu, south of Tapawera.
"The reason why Wakefield to Wai-iti is a priority is because currently you can cycle a trail from Nelson down to Wakefield, then there's a 5 kilometre section where there's no trail, and the only option is State Highway 6, and then you've got a good piece of trail from Wai-iti south to Spooners Tunnel.
The Trust planned to construct the Wakefield to Wai-iti section alongside the Wai-iti river, once government funding had been approved.
Two routes were being investigated for the Tahunanui Beach section, with a preferred route already planned for Norris Gully, Aldridge said.
The Trust was seeking $2.4 million from the government to complete the sections between Norris Gully, Tapawera and Motueka Valley.
Nelson City Council, Tasman District Council and businesses would provide the remaining $2.4 million.
The Great Taste Trail attracts about 200,000 cyclists a year, and has cost $7 million since it opened in 2013.
"I look forward to building on the great work of the Trust and local councils over recent years," Aldridge said.
"These trails offer something for everyone and have the potential to be transformed from 'great rides' into world class riding experiences."