Otago Central Rail Trail joins Nga Haerenga
Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key has welcomed the Otago Central Rail Trail’s inclusion into Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail.
The Otago Central Rail Trail today officially joined the New Zealand Cycle Trail project as one of its Great Rides, a series of premier off-road trails that showcase the best of New Zealand’s iconic landscapes, heritage and culture.
“The Otago Central Rail Trail is a local economic success story and provided, in part, the inspiration for developing a national network of cycle trails.
“This partnership is a testament to the success of both the New Zealand Cycle Trail and the Otago Central Rail Trail,” says Mr Key.
The Otago Central Rail Trail attracts 20,000 cyclists each year, who are not just riding the trail but visiting gold mining towns, taking sightseeing tours and stopping to enjoy the Otago hospitality.
“These visitors contribute an impressive $12.3 million to the local economy each year.”
The New Zealand Cycle Trail emerged as one of the ideas from the Job Summit in February 2009.
“The idea was to build a nationwide network of cycle trails that would emulate the benefits of the Otago Central Rail Trail and promote New Zealand as an international cycling destination.”
More than 60 per cent of the New Zealand Cycle Trail’s 2400 kilometres of off-road trails have been completed, with four Great Rides now fully open and three more to open in the next three months.
“The economic benefits of the New Zealand Cycle Trail are already apparent. More than 700 people have been employed so far to build the trails. Local bike shops, cafés and accommodation operators are also reporting strong interest from domestic and international tourists, as well as locals wanting to get out on their bikes.”
Mr Key acknowledged the Department of Conservation, which conceived the original idea of developing a cycle trail along the old disused Otago railway line in the 1990’s.