New links in chain of Great Rides cycle trails


More of New Zealand’s most stunning landscapes, culture and heritage destinations will be showcased by the addition of two new cycle trails to the Ngā Haerenga Great Rides network.

Tourism and Economic and Regional Development Minister Stuart Nash has today opened the Whakarewarewa Forest Loop trail near Rotorua, and announced it will be added to the Great Rides network along with the Lake Dunstan Trail in Central Otago.

“These are the first new cycle trails to be added to the Great Rides network in a decade.

The expansion of the trails comes at the perfect time as we reconnect to key international tourism markets, and will be a boost to regional economies,” said Stuart Nash.

“Cycle trails are experiencing a boom in popularity and the creation of new Great Rides is another drawcard for international tourists. This week we welcomed back travellers from key northern hemisphere markets, after visitors from our largest market Australia began arriving last month.

“The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop ride is a fantastic trail that offers a great off-road mountain biking experience. Not only does it deliver in terms of a high-quality physical ride, it offers a taste of Māori culture, geothermal features and iconic Redwoods, with spectacular views over several lakes.

“It’s a good introduction to single-track off-road mountain biking and complements the nearby intermediate level Great Rides, the Timber Trail and the Great Lakes Trail.

Being close to Rotorua, it gives trail users access to a wide range of visitor services, facilities and attractions.
“The trail has been developed thanks to a $7,090,000 government investment from Kānoa in MBIE, and includes upgrades to Long Mile Road and construction of Pūtake o Tawa – the carpark and mountain bike hub on Tarawera Road.

“It is a great example of effective collaboration between central and local government, the local community and iwi.  It has the backing of the Rotorua Lakes Council to fund ongoing maintenance and operations by the Rotorua Trails Trust.

“Central Otago’s Lake Dunstan Trail will also join the network. Officially opened almost one year ago, it was constructed with support from the NZ Cycle Trail Fund and local funding as part of a $26 million project to link all four Great Rides in Central Otago.

“It traverses some of the most breath-taking landscapes of the Cromwell Gorge and is a feat of engineering and design brilliance, with suspended boardwalks hanging off rock faces. Its reputation for wild untamed landscapes was embellished earlier this year by encounters between cyclists and a rogue ram from the local Cairnmuir Station.
“The Lake Dunstan Trail is a fantastic addition to both the Great Rides network and the myriad of other trails in Central Otago and the lower South Island.

“The Great Rides is a recognised brand, and each trail is required to maintain high standards which are regularly assessed.  Joining the network opens the door to new funding, branding, research and marketing opportunities for the cycle trails.

“For example, Great Ride trails are eligible for up to $45,000 per year in operational funding, plus potential support from an annual $1 million contestable fund for maintenance and enhancements, and another fund to cover damage from extreme events like storms.

“Recent research shows cycling and cycle tourism is increasing and driving regional economies, as well as delivering health and wellbeing benefits.
“In the year to June 2021, almost 2.19 million trips were taken across the New Zealand Cycle Trail Great Rides network. Visitor spending attributed to the Great Rides cycle trails was $951 million, an increase of $226 million.
“Aotearoa New Zealand has world-class cycle trails that will attract intrepid tourists who share our commitment to the environment and want to engage with our culture. They appeal to people who go off the beaten track, seek new experiences, and are thoughtful about the ways they interact with our land and communities,” Stuart Nash said.
The number of Great Rides has now grown to 23. The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop Trail replaces the nearby Te Ara Ahi Trail in the Great Rides network following a request from the Rotorua council. The Te Ara Ahi Trail will however remain in place.
More information about the Great Rides:
Whakarewarewa Forest Loop
The Whakarewarewa Forest Loop is a one to two day long, 33km, Grade 3 cycle trail. The trail is within the Whakarewarewa and Tītokorangi Forests and surrounding areas and is a mix of off-road single track, gravel forestry roads, and concrete pathway.

The trail is in close proximity to Rotorua and offers access to a wide range of visitor services, facilities and attractions.
Local iwi, Tūhourangi, Ngāti Whakaue and Ngā Hapū e Toru, have mana whenua over the land traversed by the trail.
Lake Dunstan Trail

The Lake Dunstan Trail is a 44 km Grade 2-3 (easy to intermediate) cycle trail which connects Clyde to Cromwell. Interpretation along the trail tells the stories of social and economic changes in the valley, from its rich Maori history to early goldminers, orchardists and dam builders. At Clyde the trail connects to the world-renowned Central Otago Rail Trail.

Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails
Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails comprises over 2,800km of on-road cycle routes that link the Great Rides with tourism destinations and major urban centres.

These on-road routes are known as Heartland Rides. Waka Kotahi, the New Zealand Transport Agency is the lead agency for development of the Heartland Rides.

As well as offering world-class visitor experiences that showcase some of the best landscapes and scenery that New Zealand has to offer, the trails create ongoing job opportunities and economic, recreational and health benefits for New Zealanders.

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