Monday, July 15, 2024

Queen Charlotte Track trial on track for summer

The Department of Conservation and Marlborough District Council has today announced an accessibility trial of Queen Charlotte Track for summer.

The trial, to be run with the support of the Queen Charlotte Track Landowners Cooperative (QCTLC), will see the opening of Meretoto/Ship Cove to Camp Bay from 1 December 2023 to 28 February 2024. This section has previously been closed during this period to riders.

Council’s Dean Heiford said the trial will mean the full length of the track would be accessible to both walkers and cyclists during the peak period, offering a shared pathway for all users.

Cyclists will be able to ride the full Queen Charlotte Track, on the condition they arrive at Meretoto/Ship Cove via the first water taxi departing Picton at 8am. Commercial operators will be required to enforce the 8am departure rule over the peak period.

“This strategic timing allows bikers to proceed ahead of walkers, affording them the space and flexibility to set their own pace and explore the track in a distinct manner while minimising walker contact,” Mr Heiford said.

Senior Ranger, Recreation/Historic at DOC’s Waitohi/Picton Office, Margot Ferrier said the trial sought to foster an environment where all users could fully appreciate the beauty of the track and to enhance the year-round experience for riders.

“We want to encourage more family groups to enjoy the track and these sections are particularly suited to most riding abilities. It is such a fantastic family friendly activity and great for people’s health and wellbeing to be out in the great outdoors together,” she said.

The track is already a shared pathway with walkers and bikers using it since its inception in the early 1990s. Both user groups will continue to be encouraged to travel north to south, from Meretoto/Ship Cove to Anakiwa.

Acting Destination Marlborough General Manager, Tracey Green – also Track Manager for the Queen Charlotte Track – said the trial was expected to create far-reaching benefits for Marlborough.

“By embracing both cyclists and walkers, the Queen Charlotte Track is poised to attract a broader spectrum of visitors, which, in turn, is expected to increase accommodation use. Cyclists’ preferences and needs often differ from those of walkers, creating a positive ripple effect for local businesses on the track and in Picton,” Ms Green said.

The Queen Charlotte Track’s membership of Ngā Haerenga Great Rides of New Zealand offers invaluable benefits, including national and international marketing and the implementation of a Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment-driven customer experience survey, Ms Green said.

This survey aids in identifying track requirements, enhancing the overall visitor experience, and informing decision-making processes for funding allocation. There are 23 Great Rides of New Zealand – the Queen Charlotte Track has been a member since 2013.

“In a commitment to transparency and responsiveness, a feedback mechanism will be introduced to allow residents and commercial operators to share their input on the trial, report any issues, and provide feedback on any incidents.”

“This feedback process will be rolled out prior to the trial commencing. We appreciate stakeholders support and await user feedback as we strive to enhance the Queen Charlotte Track’s accessibility and appeal for all,” Ms Green said.

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