Dunedin-Oamaru cycle trail touted


January 23, 2020 - 106 views

A proposed multimillion-dollar cycle trail linking Dunedin and Oamaru is an ‘‘exciting opportunity’’ for the Otago region, Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher says.

An $80,000 feasibility study, funded by the Waitaki District and Dunedin City Councils, has been completed and Mr Kircher confirmed he had received a report from consultants MartinJenkins detailing options for a 195km off-road trail, connecting eight communities in six stages.

Until both councils’ elected representatives and staff had been presented with the results, he would not comment in detail about the proposal.

‘‘It’s a reasonable investment for both of us to go ahead with it, so we have to both be pretty happy about where it’s going and that we’re going to get the mutual benefit,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s slightly complicated by that factor; it will take a little bit longer than it would if it’s just one council involved.’’

Mr Kircher would not disclose the potential cost of the trail, but said the feasibility study looked at possible funding sources.

The proposed route would boost cycle trail tourism and recreational opportunities for residents, bringing benefits to Oamaru, Dunedin and the
communities in-between, he said.

It would also provide an important link in an expanding network of cycle infrastructure being developed, or planned, across Otago, linking Dunedin with the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail and, in time, Central Otago trails.

Waitaki’s coastal nature meant the proposed trail would offer a ‘‘different experience’’ to the Alps 2 Ocean, Mr Kircher said.

The cycleway would be completed in stages and sections from Oamaru to Kakanui and Hampden to Moeraki could be the first to be built, he said.

In Waitaki, the trail could also include a section around Shag Point near the seal colony and the former coal mining area.

For safety and enjoyment reasons, it was important the coastal trail was off-road, and the councils would have to rely on the ‘‘goodwill’’ of landowners, Mr Kircher said.

‘‘We’ve got to get that balance right of making sure the trail works as best as possible for the users, but also that it works for the owners of the land that it will go through,’’ he said.

‘‘And for us it’s about making sure that it’s connecting with as many [Waitaki] communities along the way to maximise the benefits.’’

Work still to be done to take the Alps 2 Ocean off-road would be completed before any work started on a new trail, he said.

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