The completion and opening of the new 85 kilometre, $6.5 million cycle trail between Lyell and Mokihinui will add a significant new visitor attraction for the Nelson and West Coast regions, Environment Minister and Nelson MP Dr Nick Smith and new West Coast based National list MP Maureen Pugh said today.
“This spectacular Old Ghost Road cycleway will be New Zealand’s longest off-road mountain bike experience and will add to the Top of the South’s global reputation as an adventure tourism mecca. We have an extraordinary mix of outdoor activities on offer between kayaking the Abel Tasman, tramping the Heaphy Track, rafting the Buller River and skiing at Rainbow and this new premium mountain bike track just adds more opportunities for adventure,” Dr Smith said.
“The West Coast communities need to take every opportunity to grow our tourism sectors. We cannot change the global downturn in coal and dairy prices that is adversely impacting on our region, but we can do more projects like this new cycleway to ensure we tap into the current national boom in tourism that has seen 38% growth in the last year. That is why I am such an enthusiast for this project and the planned Pike29 Memorial Track Great Walk in Paparoa National Park. The recreational assessment shows this new cycleway will bring an additional $10 million of economic activity to our community over the next five years and 18 additional jobs,” says MP elect Maureen Pugh.
The Old Ghost Road Cycleway is part of the New Zealand Cycle Trail initiated by Prime Minister John Key in 2009. Sixty-one per cent of the $6.5 million cost has been met from Government with a grant of $2.35 million from the New Zealand Cycleway Trust, $1.4 million from the Department of Conservation and a further grant of $27,500 announced yesterday by the Prime Minister to complete the funding of the project. Other funders have been the New Zealand Lottery Grants Board $850,000, Development West Coast $1.25 million, Solid Energy Ltd $347,000, Buller District Council $250,000 and public donations of $102,000. The cycleway includes four newly built huts at Lyell Saddle, Ghost Lake, Stern Valley, and Specimen Point and a renovated previous DOC hut at Mokihinui Falls. Thirteen bridges have been constructed over major rivers and through an area known as Suicide Bluff making it a safe track for trampers and cyclists. It is a grade four trail for fit and experienced mountainbikers.
“This Old Ghost Road cycleway has been named in the top three cycle trails in the world by the UK-based Essential Travel because of its length, remoteness, challenging terrain and spectacular scenery. New Zealand’s mountain biking greats the Kennett Brothers believe the trail has the potential to be to cycling what the Milford Track is to walking. The next challenge now the track is complete, is to put the collective muscle of the West Coast and Nelson tourism agencies behind marketing this new cycle trail nationally and internationally”, Dr Smith said.
“I particularly want to pay tribute to the Mokihinui – Lyell Backcountry Trust, the local Department of Conservation staff and the volunteers who have brought this project to completion. This project has involved 25,000 volunteer hours, an unprecedented contribution to any remote backcountry project. It was a punt two years ago as Minister of Conservation to approve the extra funding, but with community dedication this has yielded an asset that will pay dividends for generations in economic activity and enjoyment.
“This project is a win for recreation and conservation. This new track and huts is enabling more effective pest control that will better ensure survival of iconic native birds like the great spotted kiwi and whio or blue duck. We want to ensure these birds survive but we also want to increase the opportunities for New Zealanders and visitors to be able to access and enjoy them, Dr Smith concluded.
Copyright © 2000 - 2017 Nick Smith. All rights reserved