Cromwell's lakeside trail officially a 'Great Ride'
The Lake Dunstan Trail linking Cromwell and Clyde has received another accolade today, with Tourism Minister Stuart Nash awarding it Great Ride status.
Great Rides are an exclusive group of, after today’s announcement, 23 trails across the country.
The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop trail near Rotorua has also made the cut.
“These are the first new cycle trails to be added to the Great Rides network in a decade. The expansion of the trails comes at the perfect time as we reconnect to key international tourism markets, and will be a boost to regional economies.”
The minister says the Lake Dunstan day trail is a strong additional to the Great Rides brand, and it expands and complements other trails on offer in the lower South Island.
“It traverses some of the most breathtaking landscapes of the Cromwell Gorge and is a feat of engineering and design brilliance, with suspended boardwalks hanging off rock faces.”
Minister Nash officially opened the trail in May 2021, and since then it has been completed by more than 80,000 bikers and walkers, far more than anticipated by its creators.
Great Ride status requires trails to maintain high standards that are regularly assessed, and it opens the door to new funding, branding, research and marketing opportunities.
Great Ride trails, for example, are eligible for up to $45,000 per year in operational funding, plus potential support from an annual $1 million contestable fund for maintenance and enhancements and another fund to cover damage from extreme events like storms.
The Lake Dunstan Cycle and Walking Trail, officially opened in May 2021 by Minister Nash, has had over 80,000 people utilise the trail.
Central Otago Queenstown Trail Network Trust chair Stephen Jeffery welcomes the fresh national endorsement.
“I am delighted with the announcement from the minister that the trail has been awarded Great Ride status - it is a significant achievement.
“Our trust committee have been staggered by the trail user numbers.
The economic benefits for Central Otago in the trail’s first year of operation is calculated to be in the millions.”
The Lake Dunstan Trail is the first of five to be completed by the trust, and it was achieved with funding from Central Lakes Trust, Otago Community Trust, and central government.
Central Lakes Trust chair Linda Robertson says the vision right from the outset was to create a world-class and accessible trail network linking the Great Rides in our area.
“Joining of the trail network is a huge initiative, and the Lake Dunstan Trail’s success, and indeed its new status, is testament to that vision for our community and to what the entire network will become.”
Cycle trails have experienced a boom in popularity over the past couple of years, with Covid lockdowns and Kiwis staying local for holidays, more people have got out on their bikes to experience their own backyards.
Add to that the advent of e-bikes making our trails even more accessible and one can begin to understand the numbers through the trail, she says.
“The trail provides benefits to residents within the region beyond simply the health and wellbeing of getting out walking and cycling.
“That the trust has been able to contribute to this legacy asset for our community is something we are enormously proud of.”
Otago Community Trust chair Diccon Sim says today is a day not only to celebrate the Lake Dunstan Trail achieving Great Ride status, and to pay tribute to the foresight of those who pushed to make this project happen, but to celebrate the benefits that cycle trails create for the communities that surround them.
“This recognition of the Lake Dunstan Trail foreshadows what an incredible regional asset the network will become upon completion of the next stages into Queenstown and Wānaka – projects Otago Community Trust is also proud to have supported.”
Central Otago Queenstown Trail Network Trust has completed the first three kilometres of the planned link between the Lake Dunstan Trail through to the Queenstown Trails via the Kawarau Gorge and the Nevis Bluff, along Bannockburn’s Felton Rd with all its wineries.
The remainder of this section of trail has been consented, with detailed design work now underway.
The Roxburgh Gorge trail link is also in its detailed design phase.
It is expected that work will be able to start on these two projects before the end of this year.
Progress has also been made on the trail through to Luggate and towards Wānaka.
Final negotiations are underway with landowners and an announcement of the route is planned for this year.