300km cycleway closer

30 Oct 2009

By MATTHEW LITTLEWOOD - The Timaru Herald 30 Oct 2009

A grand cycleway through the Mackenzie Country is a step closer to reality.

Destination Mt Cook Mackenzie spokesman Phil Brownie said now that the Government's funding outline had been released, the working group could put together its proposal.

"We had a meeting this week to sort out how we can put together the plan so we can be assured of Government funding.

"There are a number of steps to go through, but we're confident we're on the right track."

Mr Brownie said the proposed cycle trail would be 300 kilometres long, taking visitors from the Aoraki-Mt Cook region through to Oamaru.

"We want it to be a cycleway that people of all abilities can complete," he said.

Tourism NZ general manager Ray Salter said all proposed cycle trails have to undergo a feasibility study and business assessment.

"The demand for the cycleway needs to be sufficient to warrant investment in it," Mr Salter said.

"We're also looking for cycleways that are truly special, that have regional and international appeal and are fully supported by communities."

Mr Brownie said the group was sure it could deliver the project under budget.

"There have been estimates that it could cost up to $60,000 per kilometre of trail if it's approved by [the] Government, but I don't think it will be that much.

"Many of the trails are already in place.

"It's a matter of getting Government approval and funding to integrate them."

Mr Brownie said the Mackenzie District Council, Waitaki District Council, Meridian Energy and Department of Conservation would all contribute to the design.

The proposal will be submitted next month. "We're keen to make this the best cycleway possible," Mr Brownie said. "We're desperate for the Government to get behind it."