Invercargill to Bluff cycle trail finally open

Environment Southland chairman Nicol Horrell (left) and Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt at the start of the Invercargill-Bluff trail, which was opened last week.

AFTER a decade in the making, the Invercargill-Bluff cycle trail was officially opened last week.

The joint project, between Invercargill City Council and Environment Southland, started in 2010, but a series of delays and lack of funding resulted in the work taking more than a decade. It was finished in October last year.

Council representatives gathered at Stead St Wharf last Thursday, where Waihopai and Awarua runaka blessed the new trail and gave it the name Te Ara Taurapa.

Te runaka o Awarua kaiwhakahaere Dean Whaanga explained the name was given because it referred to the journey along the taurapa, or stern post, of the waka Aoraki.

Six panels were installed along the trail to share the cultural narrative developed by the runaka, he said.

Bluff Community Board chairman Raymond Fife could not believe the trail was finally being opened.

‘‘I’m feeling ecstatic about it — it has taken this long. We’ve been pushing for this for the last nine years and we’re really happy to see it finally there.’’

He highlighted the trail would improve the safety in the area.

‘‘It is a really good trail and I just really think it will be a ‘boon’ for Bluff and Invercargill.’’

Invercargill Mayor Sir Tim Shadbolt agreed.

‘‘I’m honoured and satisfied that we’ve done a good job and it will be used by hundreds of thousands of people in the next decade.’’

The total cost of the project was $1.987 million which was funded by both councils, Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency and Te Araroa Trails Trust.

Minister for Economic and Regional Development Stuart Nash was expected at the event to officially cut the ribbon, but fog in Wellington caused his flight south to be cancelled.

The track is part of the Te Araroa trail, a 3000km walking track spanning the length of New Zealand.