The first cycle touring routes under Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail (NZCT) will be opened this month.
The cycle routes will be the first in a series of new cycle rides, comprising of largely on-road cycle routes around New Zealand.
"The initial focus of the NZCT project has been to develop a series of 18 Great Rides, which are largely off-road cycle trails. The opening of these first cycle touring routes means that the longer term plan to expand the NZCT to also include a wider selection of existing scenic back country roads and cycle paths is now underway," NZCT Programme Manager John Dunn says.
"These new cycle touring routes will encourage cyclists and cycle tourists to use safer and more enjoyable cycling routes and steer them away from busy state highways and arterial routes," Mr Dunn says.
"The original idea for these cycle routes grew out of our desire to enable cycle tourists to get from urban centres onto the Great Rides and between the Great Rides using quiet and safer back country roads rather than busy State Highways.
"These routes will provide added domestic and international tourism value and spread the benefits of the NZCT more widely to even more communities throughout New Zealand.
"While enhancing New Zealand's reputation as a destination for cycle tourists, expanding the NZCT network also aims to encourage cycling among all Kiwis, including recreational cyclists, cycle commuters and those new to cycling, " Mr Dunn added.
The first three cycle touring routes to be opened will be from Taumarunui to New Plymouth (including part of the Forgotten World Highway), from Taumarunui to Whakahoro (linking to The Ruapehu-Whanganui Trails) and from Taumarunui to Ongarue (linking to The Pureora Timber Trail).
A series of community events will be held in Taumarunui, Whangamomona and New Plymouth to celebrate the opening of the new rides on Saturday 20 and Sunday 21 August.
Ministry of Economic Development is inviting submissions from local authorities and cycling interest groups around New Zealand, encouraging them to recommend the best cycle touring routes in their areas that could be added to the network.
Guidelines are available on the NZCT website at www.nzcycletrail.com .
The cycle touring routes will:
Appeal to a broader range of cyclists and encourage more New Zealanders to "go-by-bike".
Help stimulate the tourism sector by encouraging tourists to stay longer and spend more.
Mitigate the high-profile risks associated with cycle tourists using potentially busy roads.
Reinforce and enhance New Zealand's ‘clean green' image by encouraging the increased use of cycling and by encouraging cycle tourists off busy roads, and onto beautiful and unique ‘Kiwi' back country roads.
Use existing infrastructure (roads and cycle paths) that already meet the NZCT criteria or require only limited and targeted improvements to be suitable for the network.
Aim to be consistent with cycling networks overseas, particularly SUSTRANS in the United Kingdom as well as other networks in Europe and North America.