The Taupo Mayor has sent out a ‘nice’ invitation to have coffee with him in Turangi on Friday. So TRM are sending our chief negotiator – SWMBO. She is more persuasive and convincing than Jacinda… I have not won an argument with Her in the last 50 years, so he doesn’t stand a chance. Her issue is all about the T2T and Turangi being ignored, as follows – so they can’t say they weren’t warned…
While Turangi languishes and patiently waits for the T2T (Taupo to Turangi) bike trail for the last ten years, it is interesting to reflect that the Otago Central Rail Trail is on track to have its busiest year on record.
And guess where most of the bikers are from? The North Island…!!!
Toe-paw Council continue to ignore the need for what would undoubtedly become the most popular bike trail in NZ along the shores of Lake Taupo.
Below was TRM’s submission to Council for their long term planning. Yet it is still not even in their long term plan!
As it continues to be ignored… we have to keep posting it to expose Council until they take action…
Back to the Otago example: Trends show the number of people cycling the complete trail each year since 2015 has steadily increased by at least 300 people annually.
In 2015-16 the trail was used by 13,406 cyclists and in 2016-17 the number rose to 14,089. For 2017-18 the total increased to 14,392.
The annual total is a conservative figure and does not include at least 80,000 riders who use the trail for commuting or for short rides.
The Otago Central Rail Trail is most popular among North Islanders.
‘‘However, over the past five years or so, a higher proportion are coming from overseas (30%-40%), reflecting the efforts to market the trail overseas.’’
TRM’s concern is that the proposed T2T (Taupo to Turangi) bike trail has been overlooked in the long term Taupo Council strategy plan? This is more than just another club bike trail as an extension of those already in Taupo such as the W2K.
This is far more important and should be regarded as much as a “job creation” scheme for all those small settlements along the eastern side of Lake Taupo between Waitahanui and Turangi. It could be the economic saviour for Turangi.
It is that important to link with existing DOC managed tracks into the Kaimanawas.
TRM have been “posting” this proposal on our website blog for some time but Taupo Council have failed to respond. Hence this submission.
The original proposal – to link up the DoC trail from Tree Trunk Gorge to Tongariro River angler access tracks – was sent to Taupo Council by the Advocates for the Tongariro River about 14 years ago. Since then it has featured in Taupo Times and Turangi Tongariro Weekender several times.
A video presentation was prepared in 2011 which included statements from Taupo Mayor, Rick Cooper, Taupo MP Louise Upston, etc. all totally supporting the concept.
It also featured in other publications such as the Wilderness Magazine in 2010.
More recently in 2016 a feasibility report was prepared for Council (by an x-Council planner – Perception Planning Ltd. – who hopelessly over-priced the trail making it uneconomic and unrealistic for funding!) – his report cost $25,000? – with further analysis by TRC (Tourism Resource Consultants) all paid for by Council. Then in 2017 the Turangi Economic Development Strategy prepared by RPS for Council – $55,000? – identified this “T2T” as a “transformational” priority for Taupo District Council. Since then DGLT (Destination Great Lake Taupo) – GM Damian Coutts) have combined with Taupo Council to prepare a submission to DOC in October 2017 for this to become the Tourism Department’s next Great NZ Walk – 100 km extending from Taupo to Whakapapa.
Yet it has not even been mentioned in Toe-paw Council’s 10 year projections! Why is that?
As the Turangi Taupo Trail report feasibility assessment appointed Go Tongariro – the Turangi council appointed promotions team to promote and organise the T2T – to implement their report we recently met with two committee members. They knew nothing about the T2T or the reports. So that has prompted this submission. It deserves to be a priority item on your agenda.
So below is our Turangi motel “blog” which was “posted” in 2016 and 2017 to explain more background of how Taupo Council have failed Turangi…
Turangi’s wish list
T2T (Turangi to Taupo) Trail
This is the “biggie”.
For Turangi’s wish list we copy and elaborate on our report from TRM’s 2015 & 2016 & 2017 wish Lists:
Taupo-Turangi bike trail plan
Based on the article from Taupo Times 13 November 2015 – by Matt Shand describing the ambitious plan to build a 50km bike trail connecting Taupo and Turangi could mean big money for both towns when it gets the green light. But first some background stuff:
The project was proposed by Destination Great Lake Taupo (Damian Coutts) and Bike Taupo (Rowan Sapsford) and aimed to make Taupo to Turangi (T2T) towns a destination for tourist cyclists of all skill levels in the same way the Otago Central Rail Trail has revitalised South Island towns along the route.
Now the Government have announced their continued sponsorship towards tourist bike trails:
Cycle trails funding
As the Government Department involved with sponsoring bike tracks has been under media attack following a whistle blowers leaked report on excessive spending on consultants, (MBIE – Ministry of Business Innovation and Employment) we have tried to detail their latest round of contributions. Without them many would never have started.
In February 2014, $8 million over four years was announced for the Maintaining the Quality of Great Rides Fund. A total of $4.2 million had been approved for 46 projects across 19 Great Rides.
In 2016 the Government invested $837,132 in nine new projects for the upkeep of the New Zealand Cycle Trail. That investment came from the fifth round of the Maintaining the Quality of Great Rides Fund. An evaluation released in October 2016 estimated that the Great Rides had produced $37.4 million in economic benefits in 2015 alone, through revenue from visitor spending.
Meanwhile Turangi is still waiting to develop the T2T Bike Trail around the eastern edge of Lake Taupo… It is worth waiting for as it should easily become the most popular in NZ. It will do more for Turangi than any other single proposal. But Turangi has been neglected again… Taupo Council have failed Turangi – again.
In the same eight years since the original T2T to connect with Tree Trunk Gorge was proposed to Taupo Council, other bike trails have been conceived, developed and are now being extended – i.e. The Timber Trail, The Hauraki Trail, etc.. Meanwhile Turangi waits…
After considering the rapid development and increasing popularity of so many successful tourist mountain bike trails throughout NZ, it is quite surprising that this T2T trail has not already been completed years ago.
At last the good people at Destination Great Lake Taupo – “DGLT” – the Taupo Council’s tourism promotion team was lead by Damian Coutts – realised the dream of many. DGLT commissioned a feasibility report on the T2T (Taupo to Turangi) bike trail to sort out the exact route, cost benefits, etc. for Government funding purposes.
According to many in Turangi, it was a nonsense – prepared by Perception Planning Ltd of Taupo (can hardly be described as independent?) planning consultants associated with Bike Taupo, who calculated the costs of the T2T 42 km trail following SH1 at over $18 Million?
Compare the 84 km Timber Trail cost about $6 Million or last southern stage of Waikato River Trail for the same 42 km length cost $3 Million?
No other bike trail in NZ cost anywhere near that? The specification for a 2.5 m wide trail was grossly excessive. No wonder many months later nothing more has been achieved.
Most of the Taupo bike trails were designed and built by keen fit bike club members to create challenging routes where their members wanted to test their biking skills and improve their fitness for endurance events, etc. They are too tough for tourist novices. There is nothing at all wrong with that except the original Government funding (Nga Haerenga) for bike trails was supposed to be directed towards encouraging tourism – particularly aimed at the more remote or marginally economic locations that were missing out on many benefits from the tourism bubble – like Turangi?
Market research on bike trails by Tourism Resource Consultants for Nga Haerenga, (the New Zealand Cycle Trail) found there are approximately four times more domestic bikers than international.
But tourism is the biggest employer and most important industry in this Taupo region. There is strong demand for a longer one-two-three day bike trail more suitable for the broad range of tourists of all ages and abilities, rather than physically testing routes largely restricted to keen fit mountain bikers or bike club members in remote locations, such as Waihaha.
Just consider where some of the bike trails are located? The latest locally is the Timber Trail leading from a popular tourist hot spot to another tourist mecca – Benneydale to Ongarue…
DOC invested more than $5 million on this 80 km multi-day Timber Trail mountain bike ride in a remote wilderness.. Despite those limitations it attracted over 6.500 riders over the past year. Comparatively this T2T proposal following SH 1 should attract ten times as many visitors. Which brings us on to DOC.
Throughout NZ, DOC currently has over 1600 km of tracks for bikers with 19 of the 23 Great Rides developed as part of Nga Haerenga on public conservation land.
DOC is also the manager and primary developer of four of these bike trails including the central North Island Timber Trail, and three in the South Island being Queen Charlotte Trail, St. James Cycle Trail and Otago Central Rail trail.
DOC also opened the Heaphy Trail for seasonal mountain biking last year after a three year trial. The Heaphy Trail is visited by more than 10,000 walkers each year. It has been improved over recent years with over $4 million spent on track upgrades, three hut replacements and other bike friendly facilities such as bike washing stations and widening bridges for bikers.
The daddy of all NZ’s bike trails, the Otago Central Rail Trail, has attracted more than 20,000 annual visitors for each of the past seven years with about 40% traveling to Clyde from the North Island. The Otago Central Rail Trail provided the specification for many others to follow. So TRM are surprised that DOC have not been more involved financially, as compared to many of the other tracks, the commercial success of T2T is a no-brainer.
The T2T is a natural fit for DOC as it would link their other bike tracks to tourist destinations such as the TRT (Tongariro River Trail) to their Trout Centre (Trout Farm?) located to the south of Turangi and Huka Falls to the north of Taupo. Even beyond Turangi are DOC tracks between Tree Trunk Gorge and the Pillars of Hercules which could be linked up for a 3-4 day experience to provide another “Great Walk” trail (to take pressure off the over-crowded Tongariro Crossing?) to eventually link with the Waihohonu Track across the Tongariro National Park to Whakapapa.
The feedback from TRM guests indicates the demand from wannabe bikers is for softer ‘tourist friendly’ trails like the popular TRT (Tongariro River Trail) managed by DOC – suitable for all tourists’ fitness and ability levels and ages with a popular feature or theme. Excellent local precedents include the beginner trails along both sides of the Waikato River – the Rotary Ride, Redwoods Track and the Aratiatia Damn Ride and now a trail along the shoreline of beautiful Lake Taupo to top them all. Wonderful news.
For DOC this T2T would become the jewel in the crown. The T2T track construction beyond Waitahanui could commence as early as next Summer. About nine km of the trail is already formed known as Lions Walk, from Taupo via 5 Mile Bay to Waitahanui so it is largely an extension south along the lake edge and following the general route of SH1 through a number of attractive small holiday and retirement settlements such as Hatepe, Motutere, Waitetoko, Te Rangiita, Oruatua, and Motuoapa. This T2T trail will have massive economic benefits to these villages and to Turangi.
The route crosses over several rivers including the Waitahanui, Hinemaiaia, Tauranga-Taupo, Waimarino, Waiotaka Rivers so most of these will require the construction or addition of bike bridges.
Based on other precedents a total budget of about $6 million was envisaged. NZTA (New Zealand Transport Authority) will inevitably also be involved with funding to upgrade the bridges on SH 1 for better pedestrian and bike access. So everyone was astonished at the $ 18 million cost estimate. It simply does not add up…
Last – a recent letter to TRM comparing the A2O (Alps to Ocean trail) in which the correspondent expresses the views of so many others: