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The construction of the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail is a success story that has boosted tourism in the Waitaki and Mackenzie districts significantly in the past several years. Oamaru Mail reporter Daniel Birchfield spoke with Alps 2 Ocean marketing and sales manager Jason Menard and Tourism Waitaki general manager Jason Gaskill about the trail’s beginnings and its current state.
‘‘I missed that initial announcement, but my understanding was that the idea was that there would be one trail linking up the whole country and someone probably tapped him on the shoulder and said that’s going to be a logistical difficulty. So, it’s born out of that — the great rides scattered throughout the country.’’
In June of the same year, Twizel’s Rick Ramsay came up with the idea for a cycle trail after discovering the makings of a track during regular drives to Oamaru.
He and Denis Callesen, formerly of The Hermitage Hotel at Aoraki Mt Cook, formed a working group to look at a cycle trail in the Waitaki and Mackenzie districts.
‘‘They went through it, studied maps and sort of looked and thought, could this be possible?’’ Mr Menard said.
In December 2009, the working party presented the government with a concept plan, which was well received.
Two months later, in February 2010, the government gave the working party $100,000 fora feasibility study, which was completed in May.
By April the route was defined and in September Alps 2 Ocean was signed off by the government and $2.75 million was allocated, at an approximate cost of $10,000 per kilometre to build.
The trail’s first four sections were declared open in February 2013 and in December of that year, Alps 2 Ocean was declared fully signposted.
In August 2015, Mr Key announced in Oamaru a $935,000 government grant for the trail.
That brought the total government contribution to the Alps 2 Ocean to $3.705 million, and to almost $55 million to construct the trails nationally.
The local community had raised $955,000 of co­funding to contribute to the completion costs.
The most recent section of the Alps 2 Ocean’s eight sections — plus an alternative route — to open was 28km off­road between Kurow and Duntroon, officially opened in June.
Those eight sections are
THE PAST
Extending more than 300km from Aoraki Mt Cook to Oamaru, the Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail is one of the 22 Great Rides of Nga Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail.
According to a recent Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) Evaluation of the New Zealand Cycle Trail report, in 2015 1.3 million users visited the great rides. Of those, the majority were New Zealanders.
The economic contribution of the cycle trails in 2015 was estimated at $37.4 million, while their social contribution was estimated to be $12 million.
This includes reduced mortality and cost savings from diseases associated with physical inactivity.
In February 2009, Prime Minister John Key announced plans for a cycleway that would essentially link all parts of the country.
However, while it was a good idea in principle, Mr Menard said it just was not possible.