The Five Towns Trail Network master plan was launched at the Carterton Events Centre on October 14. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

 

Emily Ireland
emily.ireland@age.co.nz

An ambitious plan for a network of trails connecting Wairarapa’s five towns is set to cost almost $32 million and create 176 jobs.

The Five Towns Trail Network Master Plan was launched at the Carterton Events Centre tonight [Thursday] and details plans to develop almost 200km of recreational trails for walking and cycling, linking Martinborough, Featherston, Greytown, Carterton, and Masterton.

The bulk of the work would be externally funded.

Just over 100km of the trail would be on private land and would require support from landowners.

In total, 19 bridges are planned to be built, including the shovel-ready Tauherenikau walking and cycle bridge [150m long] which received $1.3m in government funding.

Suspension bridges set to be built also include one over South Wairarapa’s Waiōhine River and one over the Waingawa River from Cornwall Rd, Carterton, to near South Rd in Masterton.

The Waingawa suspension bridge would be 220m and could potentially be the longest suspension bridge in the Southern Hemisphere.

Development of the network would also create jobs and generate millions of dollars a year from visitors travelling to Wairarapa to access the trails.

Once construction begins, in the first year, 97 jobs would be created, rising to 176 in year 10 of the plan.

Regional income from the trail is expected to top $13.5m in the 10th year of the plan.

The Wairarapa Five Towns Trail Network aligns with the Wellington Regional Trails Framework and the Wairarapa Economic Development Strategy, and was developed from a concept conceived by the Five Towns Trails Trust to connect Wairarapa’s towns.

The project is now being led by Wairarapa Trails Action Group [WTAG].

WTAG members include South Wairarapa, Carterton, and Masterton district councils, Greater Wellington Regional Council, Department of Conservation, Destination Wairarapa, and a number of Wairarapa-based trails trusts.

WTAG Chair and Carton Mayor Greg Lang said development of the master plan was an important first step in making the network a reality.

“The routes in the master plan are indicative, not precise blueprints for the trails network.

“The master plan enables the start of conversations with landowners and communities and provides a level of detail that will facilitate applications for the external funding that will pay for the bulk of this work over the next 10 years or more.

“The shovel-ready funding for the Tauherenikau walking and cycle bridge is an example of how trails can be funded without putting a burden on ratepayers.”

Lang said the Five Towns Trails Network aimed to make the most of Wairarapa’s untapped potential as a destination.

“The goal is a series of trails that increase outdoor recreation opportunities for residents and visitors, to get more people more active more often, on safe, accessible trails.

“From its beautiful rivers, lakes, and coastlines to internationally recognised parks, Wairarapa offers untapped potential for a unique visitor experience.”

Masterton Mayor Lyn Patterson said the Five Towns Trail project complemented work already being planned by councils.

“Masterton District Council last year approved construction of a new walking and cycle bridge across the Waipoua River to provide easy access to Oxford St Reserve from the trail on the south side of the river, and construction is now scheduled to begin in the New Year.

“We are proud of our network of recreational trails and this project will expand what is available to residents and visitors.”

South Wairarapa Mayor Alex Beijen said construction of the new walking and cycle bridge over the Tauherenikau River showed what was possible.

“This is a major project that is likely to take 10 years or more to complete, but the bridge project is a great start. By accessing external funding, using the master plan, it can be a win-win for ratepayers and residents.”

The master plan is available at the Five Towns Trail website www.fivetownstrail.co.nz.

All prices quoted in the master plan are for budgetary purposes, have not been based on engineering assessments, and are based on current market knowledge.

FACT BOX:
The Five Towns Trail Network would consist of signature trails and experience loops and trails.

The signature trail section is made up of five trails: Featherston to Greytown [15.5km and $2.5m]; Greytown to Carterton [7.5km and $2.3m]; Carterton to Masterton [11.5km and $2.7m]; Greytown to Martinborough [19km and $2.2m]; Featherston to Martinborough [36km and $5.9m].

The experience loops consist of: Masterton Ōpaki Loop [26.2km and $3.8m]; Masterton Rivers Loop [11.5km and $1.7m]; Carterton to Gladstone Experience Loop [26km and $3.4m]; Martinborough Vineyard Loop [10.4km and $1.4m]; Waingawa to the Cliffs [5.4km and $1.8m]; Gladstone to Morrisons Bush [24km and $4m].

-NZLDR



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