Kaikoura gears up to secure cycle trail and walk funding
Kaikoura has a vision to establish a nationally recognised cycle trail, but after missing out on funding this year, the formation of a Trails Trust is on the Christmas wish list.
Recent announcements of funding include 11 clubs across New Zealand, which will receive almost $100,000 from Trail Fund NZ for volunteer-led work.
The latest funding is made possible by a $700,000 grant from the Department of Conservation’s Community Conservation Partnership Fund. The grant is being managed by the NZ Outdoor Recreation Consortium, which is comprised of three not- for- profit organisations – Federated Mountain Clubs, New Zealand Deerstalkers’ Association and Trail Fund NZ.
In 2009 central government established the New Zealand Cycle Trail/Nga Haerenga, and the ‘‘ Great Rides.’’ A total of $80 million has been made available for these projects.
Mayor Winston Gray said the vision for a ‘‘rail trail on steroids’’ is very much in the minds of those pushing to unite a wider group, including Kaikoura cyclists, walkers and runners, horse riders and trampers.
‘‘There’s a good reason to get wider funding, because there is a wider group of interested parties. Cyclists are looking for new trails, new challenges.
‘‘We have submitted a Molesworth plan - a walk and bike track that would open up the Clarence - with a bridge over Seymour Stream, extending all the way to Hanmer and the St James walkway at Lewis Pass,’’ Gray said.
He said this would allow a trail to potentially run all the way from St Arnaud to Kaikoura, which could include Hanmer Springs as part of a bike journey taking in some remote countryside.
‘‘You can access the Clarence and it is only coming down to Kekerengu that we need owners permission, but that is just a matter of working through with a group of representatives,’’ he said.
Kaikoura District Council planner Matt Hoggard has been investigating a Trails Trust project, since it was discovered the Kaikoura District Council ‘‘didn’t meet the criteria’’ to receive funding for backcountry projects and trails.
‘‘We found it was a bit of a closed shop, and that some councils had already put in requests for funding,’’ he said.
There’s huge potential for the town to develop trails, he said
The Trail Fund NZ has said the few applicants that were declined were provided with feedback on how to improve their applications for re-submission.
While there are many famous and popular walking tracks and tramps in New Zealand, cycle trails and access are restricted by national park status, and the need to get concessions through and across private land.
A new cycle trail opened in 2011 on the Clutha river is still blocked by objections from land owners, with cyclists forced to take an expensive boat detour down the river between Alexandra and Roxburgh, to continue the Clutha Gold cycling and walking trail.
The grants were announced by Trail Fund NZ this month. It will receive almost $100,000 in total to support volunteer- led work in New Zealand’s backcountry.
Clubs and trusts from Thames to Southland had just received word of funding for mountain-bike accessible track maintenance, upgrades and signage.
‘‘ These grants are geared towards giving backcountry users greater ownership of the facilities they care passionately about,’’ says Trail Fund NZ chairperson Ben Wilde. ‘‘It was great to have so many applicants keen to take advantage of the opportunity and we were pleased to fund or partlyfund the majority of the requests.
‘‘The funding is going towards tracks throughout the country – including Craigieburn in Canterbury, Old Ghost Road on the West Coast and Te Tihi O Ruru and Te Ranga Trail on Rainbow Mountain near Rotorua, to name a few. We look forward to seeing the outcomes of this and hearing about the improvements they’ve made to the backcountry experience!’’
The Department of Conservation was also glad to get such great projects being funded in the first round.
‘‘We’re thrilled to see how well the Consortium is working and the effort they’ve put into funding quality proposals,’’ said DOC recreation advisor Andy Thompson.
‘‘The focus of the fund is to maintain and enhance our backcountry facilities, rather than building lots of new tracks. It’s exciting to see New Zealanders engaging in this new mechanism and how it’s enabling people to get out there and look after the places they care so much about. It’s more than we could do on our own.
Successful applicants include Mohikiuni- Lyell Backcountry Trust, Castle Hill Community Association, North Canterbury Cycling Club, Southland Mountain Bike Club, Rotorua Mountain Bike Club, Thames Mountain Bike Club, Mountainbikers of Alexandra, Queenstown Mountain Bike Club, Buller Cycling Club, Mountain Bike Trails Trust (Nelson) and Kauaeranga Mountain Bike Trails Trust. See below for a full list of recipients, projects and funding.