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Minister Nash officially opens Lake Dunstan Trail

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A ceremony held today at Carrick Winery celebrated the opening of Central Otago’s newest cycle trail, the Lake Dunstan Cycle and Walking Trail.

A blessing of the trail followed by Minster of Tourism, Hon. Stuart Nash alongside Central Otago Queenstown Trails Trust (COQTNT) patron, Sir Eion Edgar saw the cutting of the ribbon across the trail to mark the official opening. This will be followed by a public grand opening and trail ride on Saturday 8 May. 

Linking trails from Clyde to Cromwell, the 59 kilometre trail passes New Zealand’s third largest hydroelectric dam - the Clyde Dam - then travels along the Cromwell Gorge towards picturesque Cornish Point and and links in the nearby renowned wine growing area of Bannockburn. It continues along Lake Dunstan, through Cromwell towards an area just north of Pisa Moorings, towards Wanaka. 

The Lake Dunstan Trail extends, and complements, the well-established Great Rides of the Otago Central Rail Trail and the newer Roxburgh Gorge Trail, both of which are part of Nga Haerenga - The New Zealand Cycle Trail. 

"Today is a day to celebrate linkages between communities and pay tribute to the foresight of those who pushed to make this happen," Mr Nash said. 

"The earliest trails that linked Cromwell, Clyde, Bannockburn and further afield were by foot and packhorse before wagons, motor cars and railroads. They enabled a boom in economic fortunes for these towns and made day to day life easier for families.The humble bicycle and the Lake Dunstan Trail is the next historic moment for the area.

"Cycle tourism has great potential to attract both domestic and international visitors. It is the next chapter in the economic development of the Cromwell Gorge after 160 years of goldmining, sheepfarming, orchards, hydo electricity and wine. 

"The foresight of people like Sir Eion Edgar and many others means that not only does the community have a fantastic new infrastructural asset to draw visitors to the region, but locals get to enjoy the recreational benefits as well," Mr Nash said.

The Lake Dunstan Trail project has been driven by the Central Otago Queenstown Trail Network Trust and is the first of five projects the Trust is focused on.

Construction commenced on the first part of the trail on 31 May 2019, with the portion along Lake Dunstan beyond Pisa Moorings opening for the summer of 2019. 

Trust Chairman, Stephen Jeffery says, "The final push through to Clyde saw some delays. But it has been well worth the additional time to ensure the result is in keeping with the high standard of work on our trails to date."

"There has been significant interest in the trail, for a project that started in the planning stages in 2014, and a build that has spanned almost two years, we have come a long way. We have a quality asset we can be proud of, showcasing our stunning Central Otago region. The trail takes you through amazing scenery, which would otherwise be inaccessible, past some fascinating historic sites and onto wonderfully engineered structures. Today is about celebrating our progress, enjoying the achievement and acknowledging the vast contribution from all parties involved". 

Feasibility studies for the Lake Dunstan Trail date back to 2014. COQTNT subsequently was successful in securing funding from central government, with then Prime Minister John Key announcing a contribution of $13.15 million at a function at Carrick Winery in May 2016. It signalled central government’s tripartite funding agreement with Central Lakes Trust and the Otago Community Trust, matching the government’s support with $11.15 million from Central Lakes Trust and $2 million from Otago Community Trust.

Central Lakes Trust Chair, Linda Robertson said she is proud of the significant achievement to date in formulating these initial stages of the network construction. "This is a huge initiative for our region. It will create a world-class and accessible trail network traversing some of New Zealand’s most stunning landscapes."

"Not only that, it will be a fantastic regional asset, linking our communities together. More than 80% of residents will live within half an hour of the trail which will pass through almost 30 local communities, once all five are complete", adds Ms Robertson. 

Otago Community Trust Chair, Diccon Sim said he was excited to hear that the much anticipated first of the five trail projects being developed by the Central Otago Queenstown Trail Network Trust is complete. 

He said "The Otago Community Trust has been delighted to support this project and extends its thanks and congratulations to those whose huge efforts in its planning and coordination, and as contractors, have bought this world class trail to fruition. The challenges and engineering solutions are plain for all to see - not least in the bridges and cantilevered sections which have been blended into cliffs and sheer schist rock walls to complete the trail."

"It certainly will be a jewel in the crown of the cycle trail network in Central Otago."

COQTNT are simultaneously working on the link through to Queenstown with a 3km trail along Felton Road due for completion at the end of May and the remaining Kawarau Gorge in consenting stages, and then, will develop the trail through to Luggate, near Wanaka.

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