NZ Shared path­way: We­s­port to Charleston Trail Trust get help from Walk­ing Ac­cess Com­mis­sion

Walking New Zealand - - Contents -

A$17,000 grant from the Walk­ing Ac­cess Com­mis­sion is help­ing to re­turn Charleston to promi­nence, per­haps for the first time since 1867 when it nearly be­came New Zealand’s cap­i­tal.

The Com­mis­sion’s grant is sup­port­ing the Charleston-West­port Coastal Trail Trust to build the 55-kilo­me­tre long walk­ing and cy­cling Kawatiri Coastal Trail be­tween the for­mer gold-min­ing hub and West­port.

The trail will pass near sites con­tain­ing some of New Zealand’s old­est his­tor­i­cal arte­facts, dat­ing back to 1300. It will fol­low parts of the an­cient Māori Pounamu Trail along the West Coast and also the 1860’s gold rush route from West­port to Charleston.

The Trust will use the fund­ing to help se­cure le­gal ac­cess across parts of the land the trail crosses. Com­mis­sion staff are also pro­vid­ing ex­per­tise and knowl­edge to gain and man­age pub­lic ac­cess to pri­vate land.

Steve White, from the Charleston-West­port Coastal Trail Trust, says their re­cently com­pleted fea­si­bil­ity study

shows the trail will at­tract over 8000 cy­clists to the re­gion and up to 80,000 walk­ing jour­neys each year.

“Lo­cal peo­ple who have lost their min­ing jobs can start their own small busi­nesses sup­port­ing the trail,” says Steve White. The track will help sus­tain 100 jobs and bring more than $ 5 mil­lion vis­i­tor spend­ing per year to the re­gion. “We won’t rely on DOC or Coun­cil to man­age the trail long-term. We will men­tor busi­ness start-ups, so we have a sus­tain­able com­mis­sion-based model for main­tain­ing the trail.”

The Kawatiri Coastal Trail plans to open in late 2020. When com­plete, it will in­clude so­lar-pow­ered au­dio-vis­ual boards and in­ter­pre­ta­tion sta­tions that show­case the trail’s amaz­ing her­itage, ge­ol­ogy, flora and fauna. There will be limited wheel­chair ac­cess to parts of the trail, Wi-Fi con­nec­tions and an in­ter­pre­tive app for cy­clists and walk­ers. Above left: An aerial view of part of the trail. Above right: A large rock over shad­ows the walk­ers. Be­low: A group at Cape Foul­wind.

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