Formerly New Zealand's High Commissioner to the Cook Islands and MP for the Northland Electorate of New Zealand.


Moving forward together

Thursday 8 August 2019

Cycle trail vision becoming reality

When former Prime Minister John Key announced the implementation of a cycle trail network throughout the country there was a lot of scepticism about the value of such a structure. How could building trails for people to ride bikes be of any use? The vision was to build a network of world-class cycle trails that would not only provide a safe and sustainable way to explore New Zealand’s special places, but also generate lasting economic, social and environmental benefits for surrounding communities.

That vision is now a reality; re-purposing old railway tracks, restoring and extending other established pathways, enables cyclists to visit significant historic and cultural sites while traversing some the country’s most impressive landscapes. In every region that the Cycle Way passes through, opportunities have opened up for enterprising people to start their own business to service the passing cyclists.

The Far North is working hard to grasp its share of the economic opportunities afforded by the ever-growing demand for cycle-related services - from food and lodging, to bike tours and shuttles. Our own Pou Herenga Tai, the Twin Coast Cycle Trail, running from Opua through to Horeke is amazing. Reported to be the best in New Zealand, if not the world, its patronage is already breaking all expectations.

As a consequence of the cycle trail implementation, many businesses in towns like Kaikohe have expanded or been established to provide accommodation, equipment and meals etc. It has been a tremendous job creator, improved our economy [anecdotally, I am told that for every dollar invested there is an eleven-dollar return] and created much needed recreational facilities for young and old in our community.

In the east, my Council is working with the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust (guided by the visionary Frank Leadley and with a significant shot-in-the-arm from the PGF fund) to re-establish the rail from Kawakawa to Opua, alongside the existing cycle trail, and providing a brand new Railway Station, Café, etc, facilities for steam enthusiasts and riders alike.

In the west at the Horeke end under the guidance of Trustee John Law the Cycleway committee is working with Council to update toileting and other much needed infrastructure.

And in the middle there’s a new and exciting development that will add a further attraction to the Trail; the proposed Waihou Valley Sustainable Farm and Tourist Park at Okaihau, the brain-child of Ken and Phyllis Rintoul. Their goal is to turn their farm into an off-grid sustainable tourist attraction with buildings made from sustainable products and in keeping with the old nearby township.

All facilities will be set amongst farm animals, fruit and nut trees and vegetable gardens. The farm will be self-sufficient in power, water, sewage, natural gas and will eventually supply at least 80% of its food. It will be a fabulous stop-off point for the cycle trail, and will eventually include accommodation, restaurant, land-based adventure activities.

There is no doubt in my mind that our Pou Herenga Tai will provide even more opportunities to those who have the vision to make it happen. "Luck" is where opportunity and preparation collide, and it is so encouraging to see people getting prepared.

If you haven’t ridden it already, "Get on yer bike!".



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