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Central Otago Mirror - - WANAKA NEWS -

trial to see how it goes, un­til we get through the strat­egy,’’ David­son said.

De­spite op­pos­ing the ap­pli­ca­tion, David­son said the Rap­leys should be com­mended for fol­low­ing the process.

‘‘We know there’s a cou­ple of com­mer­cial op­er­a­tors who don’t have per­mis­sion – and they are us­ing Sticky For­est, which is a huge con­cern to us.

‘‘There is a risk that could be shut down,’’ David­son said.

Bike tracks in Sticky For­est/The Plan­ta­tion are partly on pri­vately owned land and partly on land ad­min­is­tered by the Of­fice of Treaty Set­tle­ments.

Up­per Clutha Tracks net­work co-or­di­na­tor Ruth Har­ri­son said there was no clear coun­cil process for grant­ing com­mer­cial li­cences to use public tracks in Wanaka.

The net­work wanted to es­tab­lish how many peo­ple the tracks could cope with and there was a call for the Out­let Track to be walk­ing only.

Other tracks were suited for bike only, such as Deans Bank, where walk­ers un­der­stood they went there at their own peril, Har­ri­son said.

Is­sues also in­cluded main­te­nance costs as­so­ci­ated with com­mer­cial users and the im­pact of in­creased vis­i­tor use in the peak sum­mer sea­son, she said.

‘‘All this should come to­gether in the strat­egy. There is quite a bit of pres­sure for this work to be done and to hurry it along some­what . . . ‘‘This (net­work of tracks) is a highly val­ued com­mu­nity as­set . . . lo­cals re­ally, re­ally value what they have and their main con­cern is not be­ing able to use it in the fu­ture,’’ Har­ri­son said.

Dick­son said the track from Glendhu Bay to Al­bert Town var­ied in dif­fi­culty, with the ur­ban sec­tion prone to con­ges­tion.

Cy­clists should use the road in the ur­ban area and the Out­let Track was a ‘‘par­tic­u­larly in­ap­pro­pri­ate place for pla­toons of cy­clists’’, he said.

Dick­son was not op­posed to guided cy­cle tours on re­mote sec­tions of the net­work, such as Al­bert Town to Lug­gate or Hawea, or Wa­ter­fall Creek to Glendhu Bay.

Dick­son and Nu­gent both said safety was an is­sue on the nar­row Out­let Track.

Dick­son’s wife was ad­mit­ted to hos­pi­tal with a dis­lo­cated shoul­der re­cently, af­ter fall­ing while mov­ing aside for a cy­clist. Nu­gent knew of a cy­clist who broke both an­kles af­ter col­lid­ing with an­other cy­clist.

Nu­gent is an in­de­pen­dent hear­ings com­mis­sioner who has de­cided cy­cle track is­sues in other dis­tricts.

He said the Out­let Track would only meet grade 3 in the tourism in­dus­try’s de­sign cri­te­ria for tracks ‘‘at best’’.

Up­grad­ing (widen­ing) the Out­let Track to meet tourism stan­dards for guided tour­ing might not be pos­si­ble be­cause of the nar­row ter­rain and steep banks, he said.

Beau Rap­ley said he ap­pre­ci­ated the safety is­sues and his plans had been au­dited un­der the new adventure tourism reg­u­la­tions.

Af­ter lis­ten­ing to Dick­son’s sub­mis­sions about pres­sure in ur­ban ar­eas, he would be ‘‘more than happy to mod­ify’’.

How­ever, he still wanted to guide tourists down the Out­let Track, be­cause it was beau­ti­ful.

‘‘The Out­let, to the av­er­age Joe Blogs, is a tech­ni­cal track so I would be very care­ful who I take on that track,’’ he said.

Tours would not ex­ceed 10 peo­ple, and there would be two guides, so the tour could be split into two groups of five peo­ple and one guide.

Although he ap­plied for up to two tours a day, that was in line with the DOC con­ces­sions he has al­ready ob­tained and it was un­likely he would ac­tu­ally take two tours a day, he said.

Rap­ley said he was tar­get­ing the top end of the tourism mar­ket and was not a taxi ser­vice for cy­clists.

He was al­ready or­gan­is­ing fully guided out­door tours around for small groups of four or five peo­ple ‘‘off pri­vate jets’’.

The clients’ abil­ity to han­dle Wanaka’s un­formed tracks would be as­sessed by pro­fes­sional moun­tain­bike guides.

The panel’s de­ci­sion was re­served.

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