Fund helps create new access opportunities

ver the past three years, the Enhanced Access Fund has helped organisations and community groups across New Zealand to improve access to some of our most desirable outdoor locations.

Administered by the New Zealand Walking Access Commission, the fund has assisted groups undertaking projects that will obtain or create new access, address existing access problems or support community access needs (see story about priority and funding changes for the 2013 funding round).

Fifty-three projects have been awarded funding since the first funding round in 2010, and just in time for summer, six more of these projects have been completed.

Among them is a new pedestrian and cycle bridge on the Old Ghost Road cycleway – one of New Zealand's 'Great Rides' being built on the South Island's West Coast. The Mokihinui-Lyell Backcountry Trust received $20,000 through this year's round of the Enhanced Access Fund to build the bridge.

Old Ghost Road project manager Phil Rossiter said the bridge's completion, in November, was a great milestone in the creation of the cycleway's northern leg.

“Specimen Creek is one of the significant access bottlenecks in the Mokihinui Gorge so the bridge supports safe access in an area that could otherwise be treacherous, particularly after rainfall. It's on the doorstep to the new Specimen Creek Hut, so people will be able to get there without even getting their feet wet."

Once complete, the full 80km Old Ghost Road cycleway is expected to attract thousands of overnight visitors every year.

To the north, in Motueka, is another project that has recently reached completion. Community group Keep Motueka Beautiful received $10,000 from the Enhanced Access Fund to help build a new 100m section of boardwalk alongside Motueka Inlet. The new section completes an access-pathway around the inlet.

Other South Island projects completed recently are an extension to the Glenorchy Lagoon Walkway in Otago and repairs to the earthquake-damaged Pegasus Walkway, north of Christchurch. The Glenorchy Community Association received $10,000 for the lagoon walkway extension and Te KÅ