Country’s longest cycle trail gets grand opening

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The Alps 2 Ocean Trail Gala held yesterday at the Oamaru Farmers’ Market declared the trail as fully sign-posted and rideable.

A symbolic bike ride through a ribbon by local and national government members including Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher, Waitaki MP Jacqui Dean and Green Party MP Kevin Hague opened the trail to cycle-savvy kiwis.

Alps 2 Ocean marketing and sales officer Jason Menard said everyone felt “jubilant” over the trail finally being fully rideable and sign-posted.

“It’s a great cause for celebration,” he said.

The gala showcased Alps 2 Ocean Trail’s augmented reality brochure, a first of its kind for a New Zealand cycle trail, which allowed people to use the brochure to view relevant parts of the cycle trail online, Mr Menard said.

An app for smartphones was in the works to provide people riding the trail with information about their journey, he said.

The cycle trail would allow people riding it to explore the region and learn about the history of the area, as well as give them an opportunity to visit historic areas, art galleries and more, Mr Menard said.

“It’s not just about going from A to B on a bike.”

Several guest speakers at the gala talked about the benefits for the town and the region.

Waitaki Mayor Gary Kircher said people had already embraced riding the trail.

“We’ve had families already that have hired bikes,” he said.

The trail would bring in a lot of tourism to the area, which would benefit the local accommodation and hospitality sectors, he said.

Anyone who was considering trying out the cycle trail should “take the opportunity” and give it a go, he said.

Mackenzie District Mayor Claire Barlow said the six-day-long, more than 300km ride was “really, really nice”.

Despite being “no cyclist” herself, she had tried some of the first section of the trail and enjoyed it, she said.

Keen cyclists should not follow her example and wear a skirt, like she wore on the gala’s ribbon-breaking bike ride, she said.

Green Party MP Kevin Hague congratulated the town for the successful opening of the cycle trail.

He was one of the “crazy people” who rode trails like Alps 2 Ocean on his holidays, he said.

“This summer, I will be riding this whole trail,” he said.

“This is going to be the longest cycle trail in New Zealand.”

The Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail runs from Mt Cook to Oamaru and is more than 300km long.

For more information on the cycle trail, see www.alps2ocean.com

By DAVID DE LOREAN