Rail trail favourite rid­ing spot

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS - RHYS CHAM­BER­LAIN

It’s 17 years since the Otago Cen­tral Rail Trail was of­fi­cially opened as a cy­cle trail and it re­mains as pop­u­lar as ever, so much so that it’s been named as the best in the coun­try for the sec­ond year in a row.

The 152km former rail­way route be­tween Clyde and Mid­dle­march was named top cy­cle trail in the New Zealand Trans­port Agency’s an­nual Favourite Places to Ride com­pe­ti­tion.

Trans­port Min­is­ter Si­mon Bridges an­nounced the com­pe­ti­tion win­ners in a state­ment ear­lier this month.

Otago Cen­tral Rail Trail Char­i­ta­ble Trust chair­woman Kate Wil­son said she was ‘‘pretty damn thrilled’’ with the ac­co­lade and hard work had kept the ex­pe­ri­ence rel­e­vant.

‘‘We’re not sit­ting on our lau­rels think­ing this is done. It’s never com­plete.

‘‘The trustees and DOC [De­part­ment of Con­ser­va­tion] work re­ally hard on im­prov­ing the ex­pe­ri­ence all the time.’’

The trail at Hyde was the lat­est devel­op­ment, with a rail­way sta­tion align­ment ex­pected to be com­plete by Oc­to­ber. That would bring the trail back in line with its orig­i­nal route and in­cor­po­rate re­fur­bish­ment of rolling stock and in­for­ma­tion about the area.

‘‘There’s go­ing to be quite a lot of devel­op­ment work at Hyde,’’ Wil­son said.

‘‘The peo­ple who do the rail trail want to learn more and un­der­stand why things are.’’

She also pin­pointed Omakau as a place where the rail trail’s im­pact was clear.

There were now over 100 ac­com­mo­da­tion choices along the trail and about 15,000 peo­ple com­pleted the ride each year.

Cen­tral Otago Mayor Tim Cado­gan said it was a credit to com­mu­ni­ties and busi­nesses along the trail for their con­tin­ued work.

Close to 10,000 nom­i­na­tions were re­ceived for the com­pe­ti­tion for about 1200 dif­fer­ent rides across four cat­e­gories.

‘‘We’re help­ing to en­cour­age more peo­ple to get out on their bikes more of­ten,’’ Bridges said.

Christchurch was named the top town to ride, while Taupo’s Great Lake Walk­way was the top ur­ban ride.

Ro­torua’s The Red­woods – Whakare­warewa For­est was the winner of the off-road or ad­ven­ture ride.

RHYS CHAM­BER­LAIN

Peo­ple cy­cle and walk the Otago Cen­tral Rail Trail at the en­trance to Omakau, Cen­tral Otago.

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