Region looks to big benefits from integrated trail network
An ambitious plan to combine the region's off-road tracks and trails under a single framework and create a uniquely Wellington region experience that enhances regional lifestyle and attract tourists has been unveiled.
The just released Wellington Regional Trails Framework, supported by all local authorities in the region plus Greater Wellington, DOC and the Wellington Regional Economic Agency, will drive a co-ordinated approach to planning, developing and managing a regional trails network.
"By combining our efforts we can create unique opportunities for local recreation and tourism not available elsewhere in the country," says Upper Hutt mayor Wayne Guppy.
"Within quick and easy reach of our big cities and small towns cyclists, walkers and runners can get their fix of exercise or contemplation on the many tracks and trails that are dotted all over your region's outstanding natural environment."
"Only in Wellington can you sip a latte by the harbour, take in a visit to Te Papa, stroll around Parliament grounds, do some shopping and then, within half an hour, find yourself spinning along the high trails of Makara Peak or Belmont Regional Park or stepping up to the Te Araroa trail," says Wellington City mayor Justin Lester.
"It's a unique and very exciting proposition with huge support from local, regional and central government and a broad range of trail user groups.
"We need to take the next step and leverage the wellness and economic benefits to be realised by integrating our trails and alerting visitors and locals alike to the fantastic package of outdoor trail oriented opportunities that await them in the capital and its surrounds."
"It's a measure of the ambition of the region that the network was endorsed by the Mayoral Forum in August, which recognised it will drive recreational and economic opportunities for the region," says Greater Wellington chair Chris Laidlaw.
Planning for the framework began with the establishment of a steering group in October 2016. Since then the project has been supported by local and central authorities and, crucially, a broad group of stakeholders involved in walking, tramping, cycling, horse riding and trail running.
The benefits of an integrated network include a significantly improved visitor offer for the region and a better network of trails for locals who (with 67% of people walking and 27% cycling) make up the most active population in the country. An enhanced trail network will also help make the Wellington Region a great place in which to live and do business.
There will also be positive spin-offs for recreation and tourism businesses which support the network and the regional economic benefits that flow from it. These include accommodation and transport providers and the potential development over time of a vibrant trail-based sector offering food and beverages, other retail and a range of events and activities at points along the network.
The Framework establishes three classes of trail.
Signature Trails such as the Makara Peak Mountain Bike Park, Rimutaka Cycle Trail, Rangituhi/Colonial Knob and the proposed Wairarapa Five Towns Trail, which attract recognition for the region as a trail destination and provide a focal point for residents activity. They will be showcased through a dedicated website and benefit from increased marketing and promotion and further development of the visitor experience on offer.
Regional Trails, such as the Wainuiomata Trail project, Puke Ariki, Eastern Hutt Hills, Waikanae River Trail and the proposed Cruickshank Tunnel Trail which form the core of the regional network and provide quality experiences for locals and visitors alike looking for a less "populated" experience.
Local Trails, which primarily service local communities looking for recreation options close to home.
The trail network will be tied together by the Framework, a high level strategy which will become the blueprint for future planning. It will not replace existing local policy or decision making but it will encourage consistent and collaborative planning for Signature Trails and Regional Trails so that funding can be sought and applied to the highest priorities.
Key parties to the strategy are Greater Wellington Regional Council, Wellington City Council, Hutt City, Upper Hutt City Council, Porirua City Council, Kapiti Coast District Council, Masterton District Council, Carterton District Council and South Wairarapa District Council as well as the Department of Conservation and the Wellington Regional Development Agency.
Much of the maintenance and development of the trails is undertaken by volunteer groups and community organisations, and the framework provides a platform for land managers and the community to continue to work together to enhance the network for the benefit of all users.
For more information contact Sarah Murray, Community Partnerships Manager 021721599, firstname.lastname@example.org
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