Tairawhiti great rides proposal
A proposal to include Tairawhiti routes in the National Cycleway Project, and tap into the $50M that the government has allocated, has been presented to the Ministry of Tourism.
Put together by the Opotiki District Council and Gisborne District Council, the proposal seeks to develop two long distance bicycle routes including a sealed coastal route with relatively low traffic and an inland route over mainly unsealed roads. Both routes link Opotiki and Gisborne. The routes are very scenic and already used by cyclists. Because the area enjoys a mild climate both routes have the advantage that they can be used throughout the year.
The proposal has been developed in partnership between the two councils and input was provided by Tourism Eastland, the Gisborne based community Cycling Advisory Group and Wairoa District Council. Informal support for the proposals has also been received from the Department of Conservation, marae and Maori tourism operators.
The Councils are proposing that any National Cycleway Project Funds be used promote the routes by providing information boards, bike storage facilities and making them safer by undertaking safety works. An optional upgrade of the Pakihi Track in the Raukumara Ranges is also included.
According to Gisborne District Council environment and planning manager Hans van Kregten investment will better enable the routes link into New Zealand's emerging cycling networks and provide opportunities for tourism development in an area that has significant economic challenges. "We see the development opportunities particularly in areas of accommodation providers, restaurants, retail, bike hire and repairs and tour operators as well as the development of unique Tairawhiti cultural tourism products".
The coastal route has already received international recognition. Lonely Planet described the East Cape as offering the best coastal cycling the world in its book Cycling in NZ. It stated 'while there are many worthy contenders for that crown, this is a ride that unquestionably offers an abundance of outstanding coastal scenery'. The route follows the 330km of State Highway 35, around the East Cape. It takes in a wild coastline of rugged little bays, coves and backdrops of Mount Hikurangi and the Raukumara Ranges. The area is alive and rich in culture: riders pass about forty marae and will hear Maori spoken on the streets of the small coastal settlements.
The Eastland Traverse is an inland mountain bike route on mainly gravel roads through remote Eastland hill country farms and the historic bush-clad Old Motu Road. It provides an experience of New Zealand off the beaten track, as well as an insight to what New Zealand was once like. It takes advantage of existing back country roads with little traffic and brings visitors to less frequented corners of New Zealand's conservation estate.