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Published: 2011-04-21 00:00:00

The Waikato is positioning itself to become a major destination for people who love walking and cycling, with millions being invested in the development of trails across the region.

A walking and cycling forum, organised and hosted by the Waikato Regional Council at Karapiro Domain yesterday, heard that there are at least 30 projects underway in urban and rural areas of the region.

The multi-agency regional transport committee chairman Norm Barker said the forum highlighted how the region was creating a niche with the development of trails for people of all ages and abilities.

“There are in excess of 450km of trails, some of which are completed or are under development, for people who love walking and cycling.

“As a region we are doing incredibly well at opening up some of our beautiful and historically significant areas to locals, as well as other active New Zealanders and overseas visitors,” Cr Barker said.

“These trails are important for people who use cycling and walking as their main form of transport, and as a recreational or sports activity.”

He said the forum also highlighted some areas of the region where there is the potential to ‘join the dots’ between trails to give people a longer, multi-day experience.

“There is already collaboration between many of the project leaders to link up trails. Ultimately, the work that is being undertaken will not only boost the region’s economy, but will also have environmental and societal benefits,” Cr Barker said. 

“In particular we saw big potential for small businesses to develop, including accommodation and cafes or restaurants.”

The regional council has made a commitment to providing guidance and support to councils and stakeholder groups to promote and implement walking and cycling initiatives.

Yesterday marked the first time project leaders have been brought together to present to the region’s councillors and mayors, as well as peers engaged in similar work.

There were presentations on:

  • Pathway of Fire, Rotorua District Council
  • Hauraki Rail Trail, Hauraki District Council
  • Hamilton urban cycle and walkways, Hamilton City Council
  • Waikato River Trails
  • Te Araroa
  • Te Awa
  • NZ Cycling Centre of Excellence.