The "Big Wheels" of the cycling industry will be riding 180km from Taumarunui and New Plymouth this weekend to celebrate the opening of the first cycle touring routes under Nga Haerenga, The New Zealand Cycle Trail (NZCT).
The cycle routes will be the first in a series of new cycle rides, comprising of largely on-road cycle routes around New Zealand.
About 30 cyclists including Green Party MP Kevin Hague, Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown, Bike NZ Chair Richard Leggat, Cycle Action Network Manager Patrick Morgan and The Kennett Brothers will be joining NZCT project team members on the ride.
NZCT Project Manager Jude Ellis says the new cycle touring routes will aim to appeal to a broad range of cyclists and encourage more tourists and New Zealanders to "go-by-bike".
"They will also encourage cyclists to use more enjoyable cycling routes and steer them away from busy state highways and arterial routes," Ms Ellis says.
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 The Ruapehu-Whanganui Trails and from Taumarunui to Ongarue (linking to The Pureora Timber Trail).
"The Forgotten World Highway has for a long time been revered as one of New Zealand's best on-road cycling routes and it's great to have this legendary ride now included in New Zealand Cycle Trail network."
The peloton will participate in a launch event at Taumarunui, where all three cycle routes converge, and depart at 11am on Saturday. The group will overnight at the Whangamomona Hotel, the approximate half-way point along the route, before continuing on Sunday morning to New Plymouth and the second launch event.
New Plymouth residents have been invited to join the peloton on a "Coastal Cruise" and cycle the final 10km of their journey with them. NZCT Ambassador and Olympic Gold Medallist Sarah Ulmer will also be attending the Coastal Cruise event.
The Coastal Cruise will start at the beginning of the Mangati Walkway at De Havilland Drive, pass along the scenic Coastal Walkway and finish Puke Ariki in central New Plymouth. Riders are being asked to meet at 10am for a 10.30am departure. The Coastal Cruise will be suitable for all levels of cycling ability. Entry to the bike ride will be free-of-charge and riders will be encouraged to bring along a picnic to enjoy at the Puke Arki Landing once they have completed the ride.
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 http://www.nzcycletrail.com/big-idea/network-expansion-application-guide... .
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.
Focus on 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.
For media inquiries or photos, please contact:
Sarah Berry Senior Communications Advisor
New Zealand Cycle Trail
Ministry of Economic Development
Mobile: 021 221 3274
Let's Go Project Manager
New Plymouth District Council
Phone: 06 759 6060 x 8891
Ruapehu District Council
Mobile: 027 24 33 064
NZCT Ambassador and Olympic Gold Medallist Sarah Ulmer: "These cycle touring routes are not only a brilliant way of linking the Great Rides together on safer and more enjoyable roads, but also great rides within themselves. This Taumarunui-New Plymouth route is an absolute cracker and a fantastic way to launch what is the start of an amazing network of cycle-friendly options for Kiwis and international travellers."
Green Party MP Kevin Hague: "Cycle trail networks are not only good for people and the planet; they also make great economic sense. With the launch this weekend many New Zealanders will get a glimpse for the first time of what our network will eventually look like, with outstanding recommended backcountry roads joining Great Rides with the urban cycling infrastructure in New Plymouth. It's exciting and a powerful message about the importance of cycling in the New Zealand of the future."
New Plymouth MP Jonathan Young: "I am thrilled to see The New Zealand Cycle Trail project head towards New Plymouth. We are a cycle city with lots of public pathways throughout the city, and of course our famous coastal walkway which also accommodates cyclists. Taranaki is a very pro-cyclists province with several around the mountain cycle races each year, attracting hundreds of participants from all over the country. The Taumarunui to New Plymouth cycle trail will be a great addition to the cycling opportunities in Taranaki, attracting more tourists and encouraging our citizens to enjoy the great environment we treasure."
New Plymouth District Council Mayor Harry Duynhoven: "The cycle touring routes are a great opportunity for cyclists to see the real New Zealand, from the hinterlands to our beautiful towns and cities. With the Taumarunui to New Plymouth route, people will get to experience the best of New Zealand's hill country and coastal landscapes, all from the seat of a bicycle."
Wellington Mayor Celia Wade-Brown: "New rural cycle routes as part of the National Cycleway are good initiatives, and so exciting to explore this part of New Zealand. I'd also like to see expansion of routes to consider routes near our main centres, for example the Great Harbour Way in Wellington and Big Coast."
Bike NZ Chair Richard Leggat: "The New Zealand Cycle Trail provides a wonderful platform to capture the huge demand that exists for New Zealanders and international visitors to be able to explore our fantastic country more easily by bike. Each of the trails will become a fantastic community asset bringing people to the region and providing opportunities for more people to experience the sheer joy of riding a bike."
Cycle Action Network Manager Patrick Morgan: "Its great news the cycle trail is being extended. The additional rides will no doubt increase cycle tourism, which currently generates about $320 million a year. We all win when more people ride, more often. Cycling generates tourism dollars, health benefits, and helps people rediscover classic New Zealand back roads."
Simon Kennett, The Kennett Brothers: "There are few things in life better than gliding through some picture-postcard landscape on a quiet backcountry road with a warm breeze at your back. Now, with the NZCT team set to show us where those roads are, tourists and locals alike can enjoy the thrill of cycling the road less travelled. This is an absolutely brilliant initiative!"