Imagine riding through the cool of the New Zealand bush; dense with fern, dappled with light and the only sound is the call of native birds loud above the hum of your bike.
Or, imagine a trail that rounds a wide sweeping bend to a view that simply takes your breath away - stunning snow capped peaks mirrored in a deep, still lake.
Journeys such as these exist - they are real examples of what Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle trail will deliver. An enviable, world class series of Great Rides providing over 2000 km of safe off-road trails.
The New Zealand Government invested $50M, which has been topped up by substantial regional co funding, turning this idea into reality. The first step was inviting trail builders to submit concept plans. Of the 54 received, 18 have been selected to be Great Rides.
Not only do the trails need to be built to national standards, but to deliver the long term economic benefits to the regions, they must be successful stand alone businesses. To ensure this happens, commercial workshops are being held every three months with all 18 trails. The issues being addressed include - collaboration with local businesses, assisting tourism operators, maximising regional leadership and stakeholder buy in, how to generate revenue to operate trails, marketing and promotion including websites and booking systems.
John Dunn, Programme Manager for the New Zealand Cycle Trail, is a Project Director of Coffey International. He has delivered a number of large infrastructure projects, made only possible by building project teams that are aligned and are committed to building support from the communities.
These skills are exactly what is required to deliver the New Zealand Cycle Trail, a project that spans over 2000km, crossing both public and private land. It is also about working with multiple stakeholders, the co funders and the media, who are closely following this exciting government initiative.