Towns along the route of a new cycle trail extension can expect to see a significant economic boost, a minister says.
The Lawrence to Waihola Clutha Gold Trail extension was opened on Friday by Minister for Oceans and Fisheries, and Food Safety Rachel Brooking, who praised project leaders for their efforts, before a crowd of more than 100.
Ms Brooking said the $12 million, 63km trail, which had been supported by $8.35 million of government funding, was a ‘‘world class’’ addition to the nationwide network of Great Rides.
Work began on the extension to the Roxburgh to Lawrence section of the Clutha Gold Trail, which runs for 73km, in August 2020.
She said Great Rides were gaining international attention as tourist attractions, allowing visitors access to some of New Zealand’s most beautiful areas.
‘‘We’ve seen towns located on Great Rides receive notable economic boosts as word spreads, and users increase.
‘‘Two-thirds of Otago trail riders are from outside Otago, and are contributing more than $2.5 million a year to local economies.’’
Clutha District Mayor Bryan Cadogan said the trail had been a project led by people with a love of their communities at heart.
‘‘We hope this can be a major component in continuing to attract people to live, work and play in Clutha,’’ he said.
Clutha Gold Trail Charitable Trust chairman Murray Paterson said Friday’s opening marked the culmination of a project first conceived in 2006.
‘‘Building the extension has been pretty similar in nature to the first part from Roxburgh.
‘‘We’ve got twice as many landowners on this part, however, meaning we cross 50 properties, all of which have granted free easements to the trail for the benefit of all those using it.
‘‘We’re very grateful for their generosity.’’
He said users of the trail would discover viaducts, former rail tunnels, and suspension bridges, on the way through typically unseen South Otago pasture and woodland.
A keen cyclist himself, Mr Paterson said only one thing remained.
‘‘It’s time to get on me bike.’’