After several years of discussion, and much fundraising and behindthe-scenes work, the proposed extension of the Clutha Gold Trail from Lawrence to Waihola is now a step closer.
Motorists can now see where the trail will go through Manuka Gorge as contractors have been busy clearing bush and creating the base layer alongside State Highway 8.
Developed by the Clutha Gold Trail Charitable Trust and managed by the Central Otago Clutha Trails Limited (COCTL), an incorporated charitable company created in 2014 to maintain the Roxburgh Gorge Trail and the Clutha Gold Trail, the new $9.6 million section of the Clutha Gold Great Ride Cycle Trail will expand the 73km track to a total of 136km, from Lawrence to Waihola, via Milton.
Clutha Gold Trail Charitable Trust chairman Murray Paterson said he was very happy that construction was under way.
“The trail now comes through the Mt Stuart reserve, an area that’s been a real highlight to many people in this area and now it will be a place for families to came and park up, and take short rides on the trail.’’
Mr Paterson said numbers using the trail, which opened in 2013, were ‘‘slow’’ initially, but had been steadily climbing.
“People have discovered there is much more to see . . .
‘‘The trails we have here twist and turn and you don’t know what you might see around the next bend. The terrain is so different the further you go along them.
“This leg that’s under construction now runs from outside of Waitahuna to Milton and some of the highlights include riding through the Manuka Gorge and through the two railway tunnels there.
‘‘We are on the old railway line for quite a bit of the way, and then riders will go across the three-storey old railway viaduct over Falla Burn Rd, before descending [to] the Mt Stuart reserve,’’ he said.
‘‘We are in negotiations with a landowner near Milton who is helping us make the arrival into Milton very special for riders.
“We are very grateful to all the people who have helped make this project work, and this includes all the landowners who have given their land generously,” he said.