CYCLISTS can look forward to a rich variety of scenery on a new trail extension in South Otago, thanks in part to a recent grant.
The Clutha Gold Cycle Trail extension from Lawrence to Waihola is at an advanced stage of construction, work having begun in August 2020.
Trail trust spokesman Murray Paterson said a recent grant of $500,000 from the Otago Community Trust would support the project’s ‘‘last main contract’’, covering construction at the Waihola end of the 63km extension.
One element of that section, near Lake Rd, would include 1.5km of boardwalk crossing Waihola’s internationally significant wetlands, he said.
‘‘Thanks to generous funding from OCT and the many other supporters of this project, this is shaping up into a really attractive trail for riders.
‘‘Once complete, itwill have a huge variety of scenery, avoiding straight, flat sections that can have less appeal for riders.’’
Elements included rolling farmland, former rail tunnels and a viaduct, wide open plains and the recently mapped wetlands section leading into Waihola. ‘‘It’s really four or five distinctly different rides rolled into one.’’ Extended dry conditions this summer enabled contractors to build momentum. ‘‘Our contractors have made excellent progress since spring, and we’re still aiming to open formally in March next year.’’
Riders were welcome to explore a completed section before then, and many had already, Mr Paterson said.
‘‘We’ve had some very positive feedback from those who’ve tried out completed sections, so we’re pretty excited to get everything linked together and tidied up.’’
The original budget of $9.6 million was under review.
‘‘We’re probably looking at less than a million we still need, and we’re working with MBIE to secure those final elements,’’ Mr Paterson said.
The trail already runs for 73km from Lawrence to Roxburgh, where it joins a further trail network extending into Central Otago.
In common with the original trail, the extension will be rated grade 2 easy.