Boost for North Island trail development

More than 70 trail developers and managers from the North Island have laid the groundwork for a trail blazing initiative that will see government and community groups working more closely to develop and map walking, cycling and horse riding trails in their region.

Representatives of councils, national organisations and community groups from the north of Auckland to Taupo and across to Opotiki attended the Trail Leaders Workshop in Hamilton, hosted by the New Zealand Walking Access Commission and New Zealand Recreation Association.

New Zealand Walking Access Commission chief executive Eric Pyle said the workshop had been a great success.

“This event was all about connections, whether between people or between trails that are under development. Participants came up with tangible solutions and recommendations to develop trails and tracks in the northern part of our country.”

He said the event, held on 29 November at Hamilton’s Claudelands Arena, was the first in what would hopefully be a nationwide effort to work across sectors for the benefit of access to the outdoors.

“Many government and community groups are keen to work more closely together to identify concrete solutions that will improve access to the outdoors” Mr Pyle said. “The Hamilton event was the first joint event and we will explore opportunities to run others.”

One of the aims of the workshop was to create a shared map of trails under development in the central- and upper-North Island, Mr Pyle said.

“If we can see how all these trails fit together and get a comprehensive picture of what access might look like, then we can work more efficiently and look for synergies where they make sense.”

The Trail Leaders Workshop included presentations on the Hauraki Rail Trail, Waikato River Trails, the Matakana Coast Trail and Auckland Greenways, bike trails in Taupo and the Western Bay area. Presentations also discussed development of the Waiheke Trail Trust and Te Ara Hura walkway, and of a tramping track on the eastern coast of Whitianga Harbor.

Participants focused on specific issues, such as building bridges between landholders and community groups. They also identified a number of solutions and recommendations relating to the trail development opportunities in their region.

“The discussions aimed to identify barriers to trail development, and find real solutions to overcome these barriers. There were some great suggestions to make trail creation easier, including development of more information on negotiating access and identifying funding opportunities and health and safety obligations for trail developers, and the need for access to the outdoors to be reflected in national policy statements” Mr Pyle says.

>> View photos from the workshop on the Commission's Facebook page.