New 19km Cromwell bike path receives $36k for feasibility study

by Kim Bowden - May 10, 2024

A local trust has been successful in its bid to secure public funds to flesh out an idea for a new cycling trail around a section of Lake Dunstan.

As it divvied out community grants at a meeting this week, the Cromwell Community Board agreed to provide $36,533 to the Dunstan East Side Trail Trust.

The trust - comprised of a keen group of locals - is proposing to build a 19-kilometre trail from Deadman's Point Bridge at the eastern entrance to Cromwell to Bendigo.

The project plan (Image: Supplied).

At the Cromwell end the plan is for the trail to link to the existing and very well-used lakeside trail, while at the Bendigo end, to the yet to be built Wānaka link trail.

It would mean, in the longer-term, a complete 42-kilometre route for bikers, walkers and runners on a designated trail around the perimeter of Lake Dunsan, allowing for a bridge connection across the Clutha/Mata-Au River.

The trail trust says it also scoped out potential future funding from the Central Lakes Trust, and while it appears a promising option for later on, initial funding for feasibility work was not as forthcoming.

At Tuesday's meeting council staff told the community board's elected members other funders like to put money towards "building stuff", which means there can be a gap in funding available for initial research and resource consenting phases for community construction projects.

Staff also noted around the country the appetite for funding new cycling trails had changed, and it is now "more challenging to raise funds" than it had been previously.

Despite this, local tourism businesses are backing the development of cycle trails as a boon for the district, with research by Tourism Central Otago showing 64 percent of them see it as the biggest opportunity in the decade ahead.

The trail trust says their proposal would also bring benefits to locals, who are now often competing for space on ever more popular trails.

"With the significant numbers of tourists flocking to use the tracks, locals appreciate more options to avoid the crowds, and to be able to safely commute to work, school and activities."

They say the track will be accessible and easy for locals to enjoy - whether that be as a location for a family outing close to home, a meet up with a running or walking group, or a dog walk or a stroll with a pram with someone to chat with.

The also see the path being a commuter route for workers or school pupils keen to have the option leave the car at home.

The ratepayer money will be spent on producing a feasibility study that will include concept trail design plans to help determine the best route, how the trail would be built, and its costs and risks.

It will also include a timeline, budget, and assessment of consent conditions and approval processes, and some initial groundwork negotiating access with affected landowners.

The trust anticipates it will be ready to apply for implementation funds, alongside consent approvals, in early to mid 2025.

Main image (Background/NZ Sotheby's): A dream of locals to link their home on the eastern side of Lake Dunstan to Cromwell via a bike trail is a step closer after securing funding from the Central Otago District Council.

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