Pedal power a boost for local tourism

pedal power a boost

(Photo credit: Camilla Rutherford)

You’ll see so much more of your favourite places on a bike – and with new trails opening around the region the West Coast is getting set to become a tourism hub for cycling.

The popular West Coast Wilderness Trail snakes through bush, past rugged rivers and around glassy lakes all the way from Greymouth to Ross. And with the likes of the existing Old Ghost Road, the new Pike 29 Memorial Track due to open before Christmas, and plans for a new cycle track at Lake Brunner, the West Coast is set to become New Zealand’s next cycling hot spot.

The development of the Wilderness Trail has been a hugely exciting endeavour for local tourism. Owned by local councils and funded through the New Zealand Cycle Trail initiative, along with local fundraising efforts, the trail represents a significant boost for local tourism. Already people are flocking to ride the track and it’s set to get even busier. We’ve seen new businesses set up to support the industry, and existing enterprises are making the most of a new kind of West Coast tourist.

As the track is further established and interest grows, we can expect more tourists who will inevitably look to rent their bikes and gear, eat, drink, sleep and shop locally. The economic impact for the region is potentially huge – akin to the Central Otago Rail Trail, which has become an icon of New Zealand’s tourism industry.

Just take a look at what’s happening now in Blackball. The Department of Conservation will open New Zealand’s newest Great Walk – the Pike 29 Memorial Track – before Christmas. The 65km walking and mountain biking track incorporates parts of the existing Croesus and Pororari River tracks and includes a side track to the Pike River Mine as it runs from Blackball to Punakaiki. Already, you can see the sleepy village of Blackball starting to perk-up in preparation for hundreds of new visitors.

So if you haven’t already got on your bike, the upcoming holiday weekend will be a great chance to get outdoors and check out your backyard. The Wilderness Trail is perfect for families as well as seasoned cyclists, and you can choose to do the whole thing over a few days, or take day trips on certain segments.

There are plenty of cycling events coming up too – Ride the Wilderness is taking place on 16 November, plus there’s the annual Around Brunner and plenty of other smaller events planned. It’s an exciting time for the Coast and plenty of locals are already working to make the most of a new industry. Make sure you get out there and check it out!