Cycle Journeys wants to give Alps 2 Ocean Cycle Trail riders a more memorable experience at the end of their journey.
The cycle tourism company has opened a new depot in Oamaru’s Victorian precinct, at the back of the Harbour Street Collective Cafe building.
Owner Geoff Gabites said the company supported about 3500 cyclists on the trail each year, and there had been a growing sense of disappointment that there was not enough of an opportunity for them to ‘‘engage with the quirky, memorable experience the precinct provides’’ at the end of their 310km cycle trip.
The company previously had small depot space by the Harbour Tourist Park, in The Esplanade, but had not been able to host cycling groups when they arrived in Oamaru and, as a result, a lot of Cycle Journeyssupported cyclists had a quick turn around to get back to Twizel when they finished the trail, Mr Gabites said.
As the popularity of the Alps 2 Ocean continued to grow — ‘‘the numbers are just getting bigger and bigger and bigger’’ — the company had been searching for a bigger and more central space for a depot in the North Otago town and Mr Gabites was thrilled to have secured the space at the back of the Collective Cafe.
‘‘It’s such a buzz to ride down Harbour St at the end of the 310km trail and we are delighted to now be a part of this,’’ he said.
‘‘You need somewhere to sit down and be able to catch your breath, you need to be able to get changed, you need a cup of coffee or a beer . . . you’ve got to possibly repack some of your stuff.
‘‘We’ve at last got this really quirky space — and that’s the part that’s got me really excited, because it’s the thing people will remember.’’
The new space in Oamaru would allow Cycle Journeys’ clients time to explore, and spend more time and money in town and ‘‘get excited about coming back’’, Mr Gabites said.
Cycle Journeys has been supporting cyclists on the Alps 2 Ocean for almost 10 years, opening its Twizel depot three months before the first section of the trail — from Aoraki/Mt Cook to Omarama — officially opened in 2013. The company’s head office is in Christchurch, and it also operates on the West Coast Wilderness Trail.
Mr Gabites said numbers on the Alps 2 Ocean trail surged after the first lockdown in 2020.
The 2021/22 season bookings were even stronger before Auckland went back into lockdown, and with the number of community cases of Omicron growing, clients were becoming increasingly nervous.
‘‘Our expectations isthat we will probably lose up to 50% of the bookings across the key months of February, March and April,’’ he said.
But a lot of bookings were being postponed, rather than cancelled, and Mr Gabites expected the 22/23 season to be ‘‘very strong’’, especially when combined with the reintroduction of the international market.
‘‘The Alps 2 Ocean trail isone of the top performing trails in the 22 Nga Haerenga network and it’s delivering extremely well for the communities down the trail,’’ he said.
‘‘It’s a popular trail for Australians and we expect this to be a strong sector in next year’s numbers.’’
Cycle Journeys offers a luggage transfer service on the Alps 2 Ocean and West Coast Wilderness Trails, and donates about 15% of its luggage revenue, to support ongoing trail maintenance on both. It moves about 35,400kg of luggage for cyclists each season, and last year gave $33,000 to the Alps 2 Ocean and $12,000 to the Wilderness Trail.