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Trail plans take shape

Turakirae Head is the southernmost point of the Rimutaka Trail. PHOTO/FILE

JAKE BELESKI

[email protected]

An ambitious plan to combine the Wellington region’s off-road tracks and trails under a single framework could bring recreational and economic benefits to Wairarapa.

The Wellington Regional Trails Framework is supported by all local authorities in the region, plus Greater Wellington Regional Council, the Department of Conservation and the Wellington Regional Economic Agency.

It will drive a co-ordinated approach to planning, developing, marketing and managing a regional trails network.

Carterton District Council’s planning and regulatory manager, Dave Gittings, said the framework would encompass Wairarapa as well.

“It’s a bit of a conglomeration between all of the areas and all the different trails.

“It’s about mapping them and letting everyone know where they are, and promoting internally and externally.”

Planning for the framework began in October 2016, and since then the project has been supported by a broad group of stakeholders involved in walking, tramping, cycling, horse riding and running.

The benefits of an integrated network would include a significantly-improved tourist attraction for the region and a better network of trails for locals who make up the most active population in the country.

There will also be positive spin-offs for recreation and tourism businesses which support the network and the regional economic benefits that flow from it.

These include accommodation and transport providers and the potential development over time of a vibrant, trail-based sector offering food and beverages, other retail and a range of events and activities at points along the network.

Mr Gittings said the framework had spurred them on to create a Wairarapa regional trail group.

“Representatives of the three councils will get together and feed back into the Wellington regional framework, and we can incorporate things like the Five Towns Trails Trust.

“It’s will allow us to see what works, and what makes sense to connect, and advise the different councils on what to create.”

Mr Gittings said Taupo and Rotorua were prime examples of places which had been successful in promoting their off-road trail networks, and he saw no reason why the same couldn’t be done here.

“We don’t have a lot in Wairarapa, and I think that’s something we can do better on.

“That’s why Wairarapa regional trails have got together and gone ‘where can we start?'”

Destination Wairarapa general manager, David Hancock, said the trail networks would bring benefits to Wairarapa’s tourism industry.

“We’ve supported the Five Towns Trails Trust with their submissions to build a bridge over the Tauherenikau River, connecting Greytown and Featherston, but everything is very conceptual at the moment.”

2 COMMENTS

  1. It is good to see forethought and vision going into this, unlike Australia where areas of interest are shut off completely to appease the green fringe. If you want to see remote areas in Australia you will have to be physically fit and agile because no vehicles of any kind are allowed. I would like to see all of the gates up the Wairarapa coast removed so that tourists can travel all the way (as it was in the sixties). The use also of small recreational vehicles could enhance a once in a lifetime opportunity for the elderly who are not so ambulitary.

  2. Wairarapa has the great walking tracks in the Tararuas, great walks along our beaches and rivers, and some fantastic bush areas, so there is definitely already a good tramping and walking network. Lets build on that to encourage more everyday walking as well where the big health benefits are. Safer walking along rural roads will help.

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