Cycleway success

05/07/2017

Are the cycle trails delivering the jobs and economic benefits they promised?

The 83km Timber Trail, which runs between Pureora and Ongarue in the King Country, was one of the earlier trails to be completed, in 2013.

Last year 6500 people rode the trail – and many used the services of Paul Goulding’s Epic Cycle Adventures.

“We started off three-and-a-half years ago with a van, a trailer and four bicycles, and now we’ve got three vans [and] 40-odd bicycles,” Mr Goulding says.

“Business is about 40 percent up each year, so … we are very optimistic.” . .

The Central Otago Rail Trail shows the potential from cycleway.

It took time for people to realise the opportunities for the provision of accommodation, food and other goods and services but the trail now brings thousands of visitors and their money to remote rural communities.

It has brought life to dying towns and provided off-farm income for people on previously isolated properties.

This is being replicated in other parts of the country as new cycleway take off.

One of the more recent success stories is the Alps 2 Ocean cycleway which starts near Mount Cook and finishes in Oamaru.

Not all the trail is off road yet and there are long stretches where people have yet to seize the opportunities to feed, water, accommodate service and sell to the cyclists and their support crews.

But even in its infancy the trail is attracting thousands of cyclists and will host the sold-out Alps 2 Ocean Ultra next summer.

Here’s an appetiser for the trail:


Having a swell time

04/10/2009

They stopped en route to the start of the Central Otago Rail Trail for provisions.

When the bloke serving them realised where they were going he asked if they had padded bike shorts.

They said no.

“I’ve got the next best thing,” he told them and produced incontinence pads.

They bought them and were very impressed with the added comfort they provided the first day.

They weren’t quite so impressed the next day.

It rained. Incontinence pads are designed to swell when they get wet and they did.


Cycling just for the fun of it

08/09/2009

A couple of Hawkes Bay women aren’t letting the recession put them off, nor are they waiting for the cycle trail. 

Jenny Ryan and Christine Gavegan are launching their own business offering self-guided cycling tours with itineraries which include a day mountain biking on cross country trails and three or five-day tours of farmland, vineyards and villages.

For biking enthusiast Jenny Ryan it’s a refreshing and invigorating way to holiday, perfect for experienced cyclists or first-timers keen to explore the unique diversity of Hawke’s Bay by bike.

“When I was on a cycle tour in Provence a few years back I realised Hawke’s Bay is the ‘Provence of New Zealand’ with its climate, gorgeous countryside and gourmet produce,” says Jenny.

“What could be better than being outside in a beautiful place on a bike with fabulous food and wine to savour along the way!”

Just over a month ago we enjoyed a walking tour in Italy which offered similar attractions –  wonderful scenery, delicious food and delightful wine.

The Central Otago Rail Trail is successful because it too has the winning combination of exercise in stunning landscapes with good food and wine to replenish the energy expended.

If it works in Europe and Central, it ought to work in Hawkes Bay.

Takaro Trails will be launched at Labour Weekend. Takaro means play and the business catch line is just for the fun of it.


Ocean to Alps by pedal power

17/06/2009

The District Council phoned last week to seek our opinion on an Ocean to Alps cycelway.

It would start in or near Oamaru, go through the Waiareka Valley, into the Waitaki Valley, past the hydro lakes and finish near Mount Cook.

Part of it would use a disused rail corridor, and a small portion of that adjoins some of our land.

There are few details avaialble yet but I support the idea in principle for both economic and social reasons.

A recent survey shows the Central Otago Rail Trail boosts the local economy by around $7 million and creates the equivalent of about 75 fulltime jobs a year.

More difficult to quantify but also of value is the positive difference it’s brought to small, formerly isolated communities.

New businesses have been established, locals have found outlets for creative endeavours and the standard of food and wine at wayside stops has moved well beyond the sad pies and deep fried horrors that used to be all that was available.


Cycleway way to go

15/05/2009

The story in yesterday’s ODT on the growing popularity of the Central Otago Rail Trail  wasn’t deliberately timed for the day John Key announced the Budget will include $50 million over the next three years  for the New Zealand Cycleway Project.

But the Rail Trail is a good model for communities wanting to develop bike trails.

Planning is already well advanced for several cycleways in Otago including one around Otago Harbour which would add to Dunedin’s tourist attractions.

The Central Otago experience shows that while building the trail provides an economic boost, the on-going business opportunities feeding, accommodating, entertaining, equipping, servicing bikes and generally looking after the bikers are much more significant.


Cycle network linked over time

20/04/2009

The original idea of a cycleway the length of New Zealand sounded good but there were lots of questions about if it would be practical and affordable.

Te Araroa , the walkway from Cape Reinga to Bluff,  was suggested as a model but only a relatively few keen and fit trampers are ever going to use much or any of it. A cycleway using parts of the walkway or based on that concept would have had a similarly limited appeal and provided limited opportunities for spin-off businesses.

The current proposal  to be discussed by cabinet today is more practical, less expensive, more accessible for more people, will provide more opportunities for smaller communities to be involved and be based on local initiatives.

Plans for one of these, a cycleway from Queenstown to Bluff , are already well advanced.

Planning consultant Mike Barnett, who researched the Lake Wakatipu-Bluff route on behalf of Venture Southland, said the Ministry of Tourism had found “the practical thing was a network of excellent cycle opportunities in New Zealand which may lead to bigger things later.”

Mr Barnett said the network could be totally inter-linked “in 10 or 20 years’ time”.

Mr Barnett said the Lake Wakatipu-Bluff route could be ready in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, as research had been under way for three years.

Building cycelways will provide employement, but the long term jobs which come in its wake will be even more beneficial.

One of the reasons the Central Otago Rail Trail  has been so successful is that it was a local initiative and locals have been able to use the opportunities it provides for business initiatives.

It has been particularly good at opening doors for women who followed husbands or partners on to farms or into small coutnry towns where employment opportunities were limited. Thanks to the rail trail they’ve been able to create or work in businesses providing food, accomodation, retail  and other activities and have found new outlets for art and crafts.

The cycleway the length of the country sounded good, but a network of cycleways is a much better idea.


Pedal power

28/02/2009

A dedicated cycleway the length of the nation is a BHAG – Big Hairy Audacious Goal – but it’s one appeals to me.

Cycling is popular but few of our roads are designed to enable cyclists and motor vehicles to share them safely so getting the bikes away from the roads would be better for bikers and motorists.

I’ll be even more enthusiastic about the cycle way if it doesn’t stick too closely to the route followed by the main road but meanders away from the highway between cities to some of the small town and rural byways.

Following the main road doesn’t always give the best scenery – the coastal route which the railway takes from Oamaru to Dunedin is far more attractive than much of State Highway 1 – and as trains don’t usually go up very steep hills it might be easier pedalling too.

The main road north from Oamaru to Christchurch is pretty boring, but a cycle route up the Waitaki Valley, through the Mackenzie Country to Geraldine would take in some of the most spectacular scenery in the country. Then it could take the inland route from Geraldine through the Rakaia Gorge, by-passing the monotony of the Canterbury Plains.

Busted Blonde notes the micro-economy which has blossomed along the Central Otago rail trail. It’s created business opportunities in the provision of food and accommodation – raising the standard of both for the benefit of tourists and locals – and the benefits aren’t confined to businesses on or close to the trail.  Most cyclists visit other places on the way to and from the trail and leave some of their money behind.

I am very wary about the government picking winners by propping up private businesses and aware of the risks of using public money for make-work schemes.

If taxpayers’ money is to be used for economic development it must be for projects which will have endure and propser in the long term and I think a cycle way could do that.

It ticks the boxes for a tourist attraction which is clean, green and has health benefits too. And if public money goes in to the infrastructure it will provide opportunities for private investment in the provision of food, accomdation and other goods and services along the way.

It might be a BHAG but I think it’s one that could work.


Wee towns coming back to life

03/09/2008

Country towns which nearly died during the 80s ag-sag are getting new leases of life for a variety of reasons.

Improvements in technology enable people to run their businesses from almost anywhere. A couple who live near us make a very good living from importing goods and selling them on Trade Me.

Changes in land use from extensive sheep and beef farming to more intensive dairying, horticulture and viticulture have created more jobs and brought more people into country districts which flows through in to the wee towns.

Tourist ventures such as the Central Otago Rail Trail  and the Banks Peninsula Track  bring visitors which creates opportunities for the provisions of food, accomodation and retail.

And sometimes the arrival of a new business is the catalyst which brings a wee town to life. Fleur Sullivan did it for Moeraki when she opened her cafe there and now Jo Seagar has done it for Oxford.  

A group of us went to Jo’s cooking school last year. She told us their first year had gone much better than they’d budgeted for and it was easy to see why. After enjoying the cooking lesson and meal we all bought something at the homeware store on our way out.

But it’s not just the Seagars who are doing well, their business has brought people into their new home town which has created opportunities for other businesses. One of which is Emmas at Oxford a book, gift and gourmet essentials store which Jo encouraged us to visit before we left town.

TV3 profiled Jo and her impact on Oxford. You can read about it and watch the video here.


Lonely Planet likes Otago

19/08/2008

Lonely Planet’s newest guide to New Zealand is generally enthusiastic about Otago.

Dunedin’s live music and cafe and restaurant scene were given a significant plug and the Otago Peninsula was said to be “rich” with wildlife and outdoor activities.

The University of Otago was given recognition for the energy it provided the city.

“The country’s oldest university provides an energy that might otherwise be missing and drives a thriving theatre, live-music – and it must be said – drinking scene.”

Indeed, not all education takes place in the lecture theatres.

Otago was said to be unhurried and “rife with picturesque scenery” with few crowds to share it with, although Queenstown was called an area with a cinematic background of mountains and a “what can we think of next” array of activities.

As it is.

What they said about Otago

Alexandra: “Unless you’ve come to Alexandra especially for September’s NZ Merino Shearing Championships or the Easter Bunny Hunt, the reason to visit this rather nondescript service hub is for the nearby mountain biking.”

Arrowtown: “Beloved by day-trippers from Queenstown . . . The only gold being flaunted these days is on credit cards and surrounded by a bonanza of daytime tourists, you might grow wary of the quaint historical ambience.”

Balclutha: ” . . . South Otago’s largest town but is of little interest to travellers other than a place to stock up on supplies before heading off into the Catlins.”

Clyde: “. . . looks more like a cute 19th-century gold rush film set than a real town . . . retains a friendly small-town feel . . . and it’s a great place to chill out for a couple of days.”

Cromwell: “There’s plenty of good reasons to visit Cromwell: the sweet little historic precinct . . . and to eat (and eat, and eat) . . . Oh, and a third reason – to take a photo of yourself beside the spectacularly ugly giant fruit salad at the entrance to town.”

Dunedin: ” . . . captures the hearts of locals and travellers alike. It’s a surprisingly artsy town, and has more great bars and eateries than its small size deserves.”

” . . . has attractions both urban and rural . . . party down in the South Island’s coolest city, and get up close and personal with the island’s most accessible wildlife.”

Glenorchy: “Set in achingly beautiful surroundings, postage-stamp-sized Glenorchy is the perfect low-key antidote to the hype and bustle of Queenstown.”

 

Lawrence: ” . . . a sweet little town in a valley surrounded by farmland and forestry plantations. For most travellers its not much more than a place to stop for lunch.”

 

 Naseby: “Cute as a button . . . little old Naseby is the kind of town where life moves slowly. That the town is pleasantly obsessed with the fairly insignificant world of NZ curling indicates there’s not much else going on.”

Oamaru: “Nothing moves very fast in Oamaru: tourists saunter, locals languish and penguins waddle”.

“. . .eccentric gems such as the South Island’s yummiest cheese factory, cool galleries and a peculiar live music venue are other distractions.”

Yes, Whitestone Cheese is yummy; the Penguin Club is a gem; and lets not forget our artists, and while Victoriana isn’t old by world standards, the historic precinct gets better every year – newest attraction is the Whysky Bar.  Outside town there’s the Vanished World Trail  and Elephant Rocks where Chronicles of Narnia was filmed and Riverstone Kitchen.

Omarama: “surrounded by mountain ranges, the Omarama area is at the centre of fabulous landscapes.”

Queenstown: “The town wears its ‘Global Adventure Capital’ badge proudly, and most visitors take time to do crazy things they have never done before. But a new Queenstown is also emerging,
with a cosmopolitan restaurant and arts scene and excellent vineyards.”

 

Ranfurly: “Ranfurly is trying hard to cash in on its Art Deco buildings but while there are a few attractive buildings, the town itself is fairly bleak.”

But it is on the Central Otago Rail Trail.

Wanaka: “Beautiful scenery, tramping and skiing opportunities, and an expanding roster of adrenaline-inducing activities have transformed the lakeside town of Wanaka into a year-round tourist destination.”

Call me biased and parochial if you will, but the guide has not overstated the delights of New Zealand’s most beautiful province 🙂


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