Cycle trails and cycle and walking tourism are more popular than ever, with nearly two million trips on the country’s Great Rides in one year, says Tourism Minister Stuart Nash.
“New analysis of data from the 22 trails which form the Great Rides shows an increase of nearly 700,000 trips in the year to February, compared to 2015,” said Mr Nash.
“The Great Rides offer intrepid travellers a low-cost and accessible way to see the best parts of the country by going off-road. The rides are graded from easy to expert, and offer something for riders and walkers of all abilities.
“Cycling and walking these trails is a great way to explore unique scenery and enjoy the best of local culture, architecture, food and wine. Cycle trails are growing in popularity with travellers who want to combine health and fitness activities with leisure and holidays.”
The Minister said cycleways and walkways were increasingly helping small regional communities to diversify their local economy.
“They support more tourism, accommodation and hospitality jobs. I encourage travellers to explore one this summer and support local businesses,” said Mr Nash.
Of all the Great Rides, the Hawke’s Bay Cycle Trail came out on top with 188,000 cycle trips and 220,000 pedestrian trips.
“It’s not surprising the Hawke’s Bay Cycle Trail was busiest of all. I know how popular it is from my own local cycling. Marine Parade in my home town of Napier is one of the most popular cycling paths in the country,” he said.
“Hawke’s Bay has plenty of other great trails, including the Tukituki Trail, which will nearly double in length thanks to the recently announced $750,000 investment.
“Research shows that pre-COVID, more domestic visitors to Hawke’s Bay used the region’s cycle trails than international tourists, contributing an estimated $10 million-plus to the local economy. That’s an important advantage for Hawke’s Bay as border restrictions to keep us safe from the pandemic have seriously impacted visitor numbers.”
The report analysed data from automated counters on the 22 Great Rides between 1 March 2019 and 28 February 2020. There were between one and 14 counters per Great Ride. The majority of counters or sensors can distinguish between cyclists and pedestrians, and also can determine the direction of travel.
“The highest users of the trails were pedestrians including walkers, runners and trampers, clocking up just over 1 million trips, followed by cyclists with 960,200 trips,” the Minister said.
Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trails (NZCT), includes the Great Rides, Heartland Rides and some of the cycle trails in the Urban Cycling Network.
“Government funding of up to $2 million annually through MBIE supports NZCT to employ trail managers and meet some operational costs of the Great Rides. It also helps cover general maintenance and urgent repairs following extreme events, such as flooding.”
“Along with other walks and cycle trails, the Great Rides are a wonderful reason to get outdoors and see New Zealand this summer,” Mr Nash said.
For the evaluation report online, see: https://www.mbie.govt.nz/dmsdocument/12641-evaluation-of-new-zealand-cycle-trail-counter-data-analysis-2020