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Waikato River Trails grand opening this weekend

Contributor:
Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media
Waikato River Trails grand opening this weekend

The Waikato River Trails, the second full "Great Ride" to be completed under Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail will be opened via a public cycling and walking event this Saturday 5 November.

The Waikato River Trails extend 100km along New Zealand's longest river, the "Mighty Waikato". The trails stretch from Atiamuri to the upper end of Lake Karapiro and take in five lakes, four hydro dams and a number of small towns and villages.

New Zealand Cycle Trail Project Manager Richard Balm says the Waikato River Trails will showcase the very best of the Waikato region's natural environment.

"There is a growing demand for cycle tourism and the opening of the Waikato River Trails will achieve a number of objectives including boosting tourism opportunities, providing employment, and opening up public access to the beautiful Waikato River for visitors and locals alike," Mr Balm says.

"The Waikato River Trails will offer riders and walkers the chance to experience the magic and beauty of native bush, exotic forest, historic landmarks, interesting rock formations, rolling farmland and open reserves, as well as boardwalks through significant wetlands, and expansive lake and river views," he says.

The Waikato River Trails is a partnership project between Waikato River Trails Trust, The New Zealand Cycle Trail project, Mighty River Power (Major sponsor), South Waikato District Council (Major supporter),�and the Waikato Regional Council�and Taupo District Councils as well as a range of other project partners and funding supporters.

Waikato River Trails Trust General Manager Glyn Wooller says the construction of the Waikato River Trails began in 2003 with the support of a group of very committed local people determined to create social and economic opportunities for the South Waikato community. In the last eight years a number of schools and the wider community have all contributed to the project.

"That community commitment was acknowledged by central government in July 2009 when The Waikato River Trails became one of the first of the 18 Great Rides to secure funding under Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail," Mr Wooller says.

"The last two years have seen construction on the project accelerate to the point where the trails are now complete. The project has not only created jobs and business opportunities but it has opened up access to the mighty Waikato River like never before."

As well as the construction of the trails, the Waikato River Trails Trust has also successfully improved the riparian areas close to the Waikato River and tributaries, Mr Wooller says.

"In the last year alone 6000 native trees have been planted by volunteers in wetlands and in other areas along the trails. The trust has also constructed 18km of fencing that now provides a barrier between farming activities and the Waikato River."

"Thanks to the unwavering support of our volunteers and the outstanding support of the project partners and land owners adjacent to the trails, the dream of the Waikato River Trails is now becoming a reality," Mr Wooller says.

"The South Waikato community and indeed all New Zealanders can be truly proud of The Waikato River Trails, a permanent new asset that will showcase the best of this beautiful region."

A third Great Ride, the Dun Mountain Trail in Nelson, is also due to be opened in November. The Dun Mountain Trail will be opened on Saturday 12 November. Check out The New Zealand Cycle Trail website for further details at: www.nzcycletrail.com .

Event Details The Waikato River Trails Grand Opening event will be held on Saturday 5 November starting at the Whakamaru Reserve at 11am, rain or shine.

Key attendees will include New Zealand Cycle Trail Ambassador and Olympic Gold Medalist Sarah Ulmer, Taupo MP Louise Upston, Green Party MP Kevin Hague and South Waikato District Council Mayor Neil Sinclair.

Members of the public are being invited to join the celebration by participating in one of three community events, an 8km walk, a 14km walk or a 14km cycle ride.

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