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Kaikoura cycleway will span stretch of highway “as iconic as Great Ocean Road"

8 December 2017

A new cycleway between Waipapa Bay and Mangamaunu in Kaikoura will span a stretch of highway “as tourist-friendly and iconic as the Great Ocean Road and Big Sur”, says Whale Watch Kaikoura General Manager Kauahi Ngapora.

The Great Ocean Road is a popular touring route in Australia and Big Sur is in the United States.

In July 2017, the NZ Transport Agency announced $231 million in funding to improve a 60-kilometre section of State Highway 1 between Clarence and Oaro, with better safety, access and amenity.

This includes the addition of a separated cycle path on a 20km stretch of road between Waipapa Bay and Mangamaunu – to allow people to enjoy the iconic coastline at a more leisurely pace.

The plan is to eventually extend the cycle path a further 10km south of Kaikoura –allowing a safe, off-road, 60km round trip, which it is hoped will quickly become a must do in any visitors' Kaikoura itinerary.

Ngapora is a trustee of the new Marlborough Kaikōura Trail Trust, set up to drive the cycleway project.

He and eight other trustees signed a trust deed on November 30 – almost a year after the cycleway idea was first proposed.

Ngapora says the cycleway, which will be developed over the next two to three years, will be “a spectacular stretch of … trail for tourists to enjoy”.

The changes to SH1 are being delivered by the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) alliance.

“[NCITR] have had the foresight to include facilities such as toilets and improved parking in the design which will make it a safer and more enjoyable experience,” Ngapora says.

“It sets this route up to be as tourist friendly and iconic as the Great Ocean Road [and] Big Sur.

“The trail will be an amazing recreational facility for [Kaikoura] locals and we hope it will be an asset that generates jobs and new economic opportunities for the community.

"It will offer visitors an opportunity to experience one of the world's leading wine regions (Marlbourough), learn about the cultural history of the area, see the impact of the Kaikoura quake on the geography and [experience] the breathtaking coastal scenery and wildlife of the coast... not to mention enjoying great hospitality and other experiences."

Ngapora says the Marlborough Kaikōura Trail Trust will build on the work of the pre-existing Coastal Pacific Trail Working Group, which is a passionate group of volunteers.

“The group will still be a critical part of making this trail happen, they'll provide support to the team of people the trust will employ to develop the trail.

“Over the next six months, the priorities are to undertake more detailed planning and secure access along the trail.

"Alongside this we will also be embarking on a significant fundraising programme."

The trail is estimated to cost more than $10 million to build.