By Beckie Wilson
The latest funding for The Rimutaka Cycle Trail will be enough to make a ‘boring’ South Wairarapa section a more scenic and safer ride for cyclists.
The Maintaining the Quality of Great Rides Fund has given $221,000 to the trail with $20,000 dedicated to the Western Lake reserve track upgrade.
Destination Wairarapa and South Wairarapa District Council requested funding for the upgrade of the Western Lake trail to improve safety for the riders.
David Hancock, Destination Wairarapa general manager, said cyclists are currently riding on the Western Lake Rd which meets all safety requirements, but it was thought it could be improved.
“To get the trail off road to a more scenic view is great,” he said.
“DOC have been through there and they have seen the route for the trail to check for any endangered species and can see we won’t damage any flora or fauna.”
The new track will go through the bush beside the lake, and will connect the two lay-bys.
The funding will allow the new track to be fully-completed and will give cyclists a safer and scenic route.
Additional upgrades will be done on the Hutt Valley and South coast sections.
“Having our neighbours upgrading their sections of the trail helps the Wairarapa to attract visitors across the Rimutaka Range and experience the trail on this side.”
It is not yet decided when the construction of the new track will begin.
David Woulfe, owner of Cycle Rimutaka, said the Western Lake Rd was a quiet country road, but some locals in cars and sheep trucks did speed down it.
To take the trail off the road on a separate track of its own would be more interesting and a lot safer for the riders.
“Some feedback we get from people is that the cycle trail is great, but the road section is a bit boring.
“If it [the trail] stays longer on the road there could be accidents.”
The Rimutaka Cycle Trail starts at Petone, crosses the Rimutakas, and loops back to South Wairarapa and to the coast. It was named one of the hottest new visitor attractions by Lonely Planet in 2015.
In the latest round of funding, the government pumped $837,132 into nine projects to develop the New Zealand Cycle Trail. The investment helps to maintain the trails to their current world class standard.
Former prime minister John Key who also held the tourism portfolio, has said an evaluation released in October this year estimated that the New Zealand Great Rides had generated $37.4 million in 2015 alone through revenue from visitor spending.