Motu Coach Road proposed "Great Ride"

Saturday 19 December 2009, 7:49AM
By Gisborne District Council


A bid to have Eastland included in a national cycleway network has been launched by Gisborne District Council, the Department of Conservation and Opotiki District Council. The bid builds on Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key’s plans to develop cycling facilities as a national tourist attraction. The proposed route will follow stock routes, old coach roads and military tracks that were developed in the mid 1880s to open up the valleys of the Raukumara ranges to settlement and farming.

It is a beautiful and fascinating corner of the country according to Gisborne District Council district policy team leader, Kim Smith. “As far a cycling routes go, this one will rival anything in terms of sights and scenery. It is more adventurous than some of the other concepts emerging in other regions, but it is still accessible to a wide range of fitness levels.” She added “If accepted as part of the cycle trail network it could help increase the profile of the Eastland. It could help encourage visitors to explore, not only the cycle trail, but the other wonders of Eastland such as sun, surf and vineyards.”

The concept has been developed in conjunction with the Department of Conservation and Opotiki District Council. To progress it there is an extensive process to go through at local and national level. In February the government will decide whether it considers the proposal worth further consideration. If it does, then an extensive feasibility study will be required. Once this is completed discussions and consultation will start initially focussing on tangata whenua and landowners.

“Council is keen to involve people and organisations who are interested in this project or may be affected by it. To attract Government funding from the $50M put aside to develop the country’s Great Rides any cycle trail must have strong backing from local people and businesses. We have already spoken with a number potential accommodation and tourism operators in Matawai, Motu and Toatoa.”

Mayor Meng Foon loves the idea of the Motu Coach Trail becoming one of New Zealand’s Great Rides. “I will do everything in my influence to help move this project along. It will be good for us as a community of keen outdoor people and importantly it will help stimulate more tourist activities in the settlements along the trail and in Gisborne and Opotiki. I have driven over this track, and the scenery is to die for,” said Mayor Foon.

The cycle trails being developed throughout New Zealand will be promoted as Great Rides, in much the same way as the Great Walks are promoted to both domestic and international visitors. Tourism New Zealand will be the key organisation promoting them.