Turangi have recently been celebrating the smart strategy by Taupo District Council to include the Taupo to Turangi (“T2T”) bike trail in Council’s new economic development plan, as mentioned in the front page feature on Taupo Times for 15 June and in TRM Daily Report on 13 June. The Taupo Times article suggested it will create 47 new regional jobs and between $2.87 and $4.71 million in annual regional income. (Those were the 2016 estimates by TRC – Tourism Resource Consultants – they also calculated within 5 years over 20,000 tourists would use the trail)
A word of warning however – the Turangi Chronicle dated 29 April, 2010 had a front page headline reading: 2011 opening goal for river trail…? and another article from Taupo Times on 12 February 2016 reads: Taupo to Turangi bike trail reaches stage two!!!
So it is not done and dusted yet and funding and access issues re route planning still need to be confirmed. But the inclusion on Taupo Council’s new economic plan is a huge step…
TRM reports have suggested many times over the past 10 years that this will be a game changer for Turangi and were looking for some evidence when the North & South magazine for July 2018 provided it for me. Mike White wrote a six page article on Clyde in the deep south with lots of comment on the merits living in small town NZ. Thank you Mike – it explains how a bike trail impacts on a small town which was previously struggling economically. A warning – DOC will love this!
The following is directly copied from Page 110 as follows:
PRAISE FOR DOC!
It’s bikes that have been a major factor in Clyde’s renaissance. Before the dam went in, the government got rid of the rail line that ran to Cromwell, stopping the trains at Middlemarch, 150 km from Clyde. When the Department of Conservation suggested turning the disused rail route into a cycleway, people reckoned they were loony. Nobody thinks that any more. Now thousands of tourists spend four or five days cycling across Central Otago, beginning or ending in Clyde. “This week alone we’ve put close to 100 people out on the trail” says Lisa Joyce from Bike It Now, one of four cycle companies operating in Clyde. It was only Tuesday.
They do everything people want – pick them up, hire them bikes, transfer their luggage, book them lovely accommodation in lovely villages along the way. Joyce says kids can ride the whole trail from the age of 10, and they’ve had an 83 year old complete it. And despite the reputation of Central Otago’s winters, you can do it all year round, she insists….
(A good visual comparison is to consider one of the Clyde hire bike racks above to TRM’s miserable fleet! We have a long way to go…)
As the Central Otago Rail Trail (CORT) has been so successful beyond most wildest dreams and set the standard for all other proposed bike trail ventures in NZ, it is an interesting and essential exercise to consider some direct comparisons of the physical characteristics of the T2T – that proposed from Taupo around the edge of Lake Taupo to make sure this measures up.
On a direct comparative basis, perhaps I should apologise to Otago , the CORT does not stand a chance.
1 First, simply, sadly CORT in central Otago is so borrrring… (Hopefully they will forgive TRM if we show lots of images of their trail?) We have heard that comment from so many bikers. It is a section of abandoned rail line in the middle of nowhere, although for many that must be part of the charm. But it just cannot compete with the scenic beauty of a biking/walking trail along the shores of 100% pure Lake Taupo with Mt. Ruapehu and the Tongariro National Park providing such a spectacular setting.
2 Equally important is the location factor. Many of the CORT tourists have to drive past Taupo on SH1 to get there. The geographical situation of Turangi – halfway to everywhere in the North Island – could not be better.
3 Third is all the cute little lake edge settlements along the eastern shore of Lake Taupo – Waitahanui, Hatepe, Motutere, Waitetoko, Te Rangiita, Oruatua, Motuoapa, etc. Not forgetting Korohe which is not on the route but situated off to one side and determined, so we are told, to be somehow included.
4 Fourth is the employment and tourist accommodation opportunities in so many small Maori settlements which have suffered for many years from lack of job opportunities. This biking/walking trail impacts will be “transformational” for these villages. What a great opportunity for local iwi in promoting their Maori culture.
5 The weather? Central Otago is extreme with either very hot in summer or very cold in winter. Turangi really has a far more hospitable climate all year for tourist activities.
7 Other options. In Taupo there are so many other alternative options in the National Park to trout fishing etc. to add extras to the bike trail. In particular the kinky cafes in Taupo and Turangi will get some stiff competition from new cafes opening on route with serene views over Lake Taupo.
8 There have been several Council initiated formal appraisals from the Bike Trail Feasibility study to the Turangi Economic Development Strategy to the application to DOC for this to be included as a new “Great Walk” etc. All studies confirm this route has all the essential ingredients to qualify for a world class biking/walking trail.
9 There is huge potential to link up with the Waikato River Trail and bike trail heading south from Rotorua but even better is the proposal from Taupo District Council to make this one of NZ’s Great Walks by extending the route further south to become a “Volcanic Trail” following the banks of the Tongariro River to link with Pillars of Hercules and Tree Trunk Gorge in the Kaimanawas, then head west across the Waihohonu Track to Whakapapa. This will be inevitable as there are already three tourist trails managed by DOC that just need linking up.
10 Trout fishing? In the Taupo region this has to add to the appeal?. TRM have already had non-biking anglers from West Island suggesting they can now get a longer time allowance when they bring their wives over to bike or walk the T2T while they fish all the tributaries the bike trail passes over.