Recently Taupo Council held their meeting to consider verbal submissions for their “Transport Strategy Plan”.
Fortunately TRM was first up so our pleas may have received a more receptive hearing. This must make a huge difference as after so many submissions later in the day the Councillors cannot be blamed for nodding off. These were much the same group that TRM had also addressed recently during a local Turangi Community Board meeting. Rather than bore them by repeating the previous request for the Taupo to Turangi bike trail – the “T2T”, this was an entirely new proposal for them to consider. So they had to listen.
In particular, was the importance of developing wider links of bike trails beyond Taupo to develop “strategic regional walking and biking connections”. The situation is that the existing trails around the top of the lake may be wonderful for locals and for Taupo Bike Club members, but these cannot seriously be regarded as tourist trails. They are too difficult to access, too remote, too technical, and do not link up with tracks from surrounding regions such as the Waikato River Trail.
i.e. Every year thousands of “bikepacking” tourists bike from Cape Reinga to Bluff following existing bike trails, but Taupo (and Turangi!) misses out. For emphasis, I showed them the 2016 book “Tour Aotearoa – NZ’s 3000 km bikepacking odyssey” – the bike tourists bible which failed to mention Taupo.
As such, you may not be surprised that TRM pitched for the new bikepacking route to head south around the eastern side of Lake Taupo (aka T2T) to link with Turangi and then extend further south. This would link with existing DOC (Department of Conservation) managed tracks such as the famous Tongariro River Trail and continue south to link with the Pillars of Hercules to Tree Trunk Gorge.
We were surprised and delighted that this was followed up by a request from the Taupo Policy Advisor for TRM to expand and firm up on potential links. This was the best response from Taupo Council in the last ten years of trying to get them to focus more on the T2T and south beyond Turangi.
After our previous brief submission to the Turangi Tongariro Community Board, their chairperson formally advised they – the TTCB – were no longer interested in pursuing the T2T option? Fortunately, Taupo based councillors have more sense of purpose and long term plans.
Regular TRM Daily Report readers and Turangi residents will appreciate that after ten years of submissions (aka blogs) from TRM, their “DRAFT” recommendation finally makes the T2T and bike trail route south of Turangi “official”.
At the Council meeting on Tuesday they approved the Transport Strategy – which is a 30 year view strategic document, aimed to direct council to develop proposals for future long term plans – as follows:
We will work with community groups (including Bike Taupō), the Department of Conservation and other landowners to provide and promote a range of recreational walks and bike tracks for locals and visitors alike…….
We will ensure that Taupō district routes and networks are included in the development of regionally and nationally connected networks, providing for a range of skill levels but including inclusive and inviting tracks that attract visitors to the district, including wider parts of the district such as Turangi and Mangakino. Priorities include:
· Creating connections to the national cycling network suitable for visitors and tourists, to form part of backpacking and cycle touring routes:
o from the Waikato River Trails to Taupō
o a connection from Turangi back into national network
· Create a new Great Ride near Turangi, to support Turangi as a cycling destination and part of national backpacking and cycling touring routes.
o potential to link the current Tongariro River Trail through to the Pillars of Hercules, Tree Trunk Gorge Trail, and to the Waihohonu Track
· Connecting the Timber Trail, to the Great Lake Trails, and connecting through to Taupō.
- Creating a track around as much of Lake Taupō as possible, with good connections between sections.