Far North Rail Corridor Cycleway Gains Speed

 

Far North groups are enthused about a proposed 85.6-kilometre coast-to-coast cycle track from Horeke to the Bay of Islands, based in the existing rail corridor between Okaihau, Kaikohe and Kawakawa.

A feasibility study and business plan, lodged with the office of the Minister of Tourism says it could return in excess of $25 to $28 million to the local economy in the first five years of operation.

At the same time the project could generate up to 80 jobs in the construction phase and close to 100 full time positions over five years once the project is fully operational.

The decision on government funding for the projects from the national cycleway programme will be announced by the end of next month.

Western Community Board chair and cycleway advocate Tracy Dalton said today that there is already a commitment from stakeholders, including a number of landowners, iwi and local trusts, to make a voluntary start on clearing the corridor to be ready for the construction phase.

The central link for the trail was the rail corridor between Kawakawa and Okaihau. It was envisaged the Bay Of Islands Vintage Railway corridor between Kawakawa and Opua would provide the eastern seaboard link, with the western link following the Utakura Valley across private land to the Hokianga Harbour at Horeke.

Discussions with landowners including On Track and local farmers were ongoing, and lines of communication had been established with private and public sector funding agencies.

A Far North cycleway an exciting addition to bikers' options

An early funding decision was considered critical if the project was to be fully operational by the target date of August 2011 –to help capture a Far North share of the tourist impetus from the Rugby World Cup.

“There is far more than track construction involved. Service providers such as accommodation, food and beverage, hire companies and a range of ancillary services need to know when the track will be available so they can get their planning underway.”

The project needed to proceed as a single entity. While the Far North District Council was providing the initial framework for the project, the intention was that it would be community driven through a charitable trust and governance group to maintain the groundswell of enthusiasm and impetus already generated.

The study said that the cycleway would be a catalyst for commercial operations and development beyond the Horeke-Opua trail, including the potential for boat and waka excursions and maritime related tours and facilities on the wider Hokianga Harbour.

There would be ongoing consultation with local communities as the project moved into the final planning and construction phases. At an operational level, the feasibility study concluded the project could be self sustaining and in fact showing an annual surplus by 2016.

MORE: Full feasibility study here

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5 Comments

 
  1. Steve W says:

    This Rail Trail should be very interesting, there are a number of decent size bridges intact on the alignment of the former Okaihau Branch.
    Incidentally, some consider that this line was closed and rails removed prematurely given the forestry assets up in this area.

  2. rtc says:

    I think a lot of lines have been closed prematurely in NZ.

  3. Jadee says:

    I oppose this cycle track 100% Why??? Because my nan’s land is involved. Funny thing is our family haven’t even received any form of communication from the local district council etc. It is only from local hui and local neighbours that our family has been informed.

    For those who are for it… I propose that the cycle track go through your land and right past front door, as they are proposing for my nan’s land and see what you say then!

    History is merely repeating itself again! Our land is being taken (confiscated) but in the form of a freaking cycle track. Wake Up NZ

  4. Rider says:

    Jadee - please ask you Nan to keep the kettle on for when we come through…

  5. Alan Preston says:

    As a dedicated and active advocate for sustainable transport initiatives, I will never support the removal of long term strategically essential alternative transport infrastructure to make way for short term recreational needs.
    A government that encourages and enables this to happen is not only irresponsible but is also dangerous.
    This development does nothing towards achieving the goal we should all be working toward, of reducing our carbon emissions and our dependence on increasingly expensive imported - or even locally produced - fossil fuels.
    New Zealanders have been conned by the National government into accepting the bait of cycleways in place of ‘uneconomic’ railways in order to reciprocate to their benefactors in the auto-petro-lobby who got them into power by ensuring that they can operate in a competition free environment.
    How much space do recreational cyclists actually need ? I’ve ridden beside railway tracks all over the world. Why can’t cycleways be built alongside tracks within the rail corridor ?

 

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