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New trails that cater to beginner and intermediate cyclists, more trails dedicated to walking, and a Trails Advisory Group are all part of the proposed Draft Out and About On Tracks Strategy 2021.
The 2021 draft strategy was produced following a review of the Out and About On Tracks Strategy 2016, and was approved at the 5 August Community and Recreation Committee for the purposes of seeking community feedback.
The review found that participation in recreation activities (primarily walking, trail running, cycle trail riding and mountain biking) using off-road tracks accessible from urban areas continues to increase.
Off-road recreation in Nelson occurs on both public and private land, with a significant amount occurring on Ngāti Koata whenua.
The Draft Out and About – On Tracks Strategy 2021 seeks to provide a greater balance in the trail network with more beginner and intermediate trails created as well as providing upgrades to existing trails and proposes an increased environmental lens over new trails.
An upgrade of the Maitai Valley Floor route to the new Maitai Recreation Hub is an example of a trail that would suit beginner and intermediate riders.
The need for more beginner mountain biking trails was identified following engagement with a range of recreational stakeholders. Nelson’s trails generally lean towards the more advanced level, which has been highlighted through a grade audit process, which is nearly complete.
“Our off-road recreation trails bring considerable economic benefits to our city and are an environmentally sustainable form of tourism with potential for growth,” says Group Manager Community Services Andrew White.
“If we can support the development of more beginner and intermediate trails in appropriate places in our reserves, we can make our trails accessible to more residents, and also encourage visitors to stay an extra night in Nelson.”
A Trails Advisory Group is proposed to be established to oversee the implementation of the strategy. Comprising of representatives from recreational groups and landowners, the group would make recommendations to landowners on issues regarding new and existing trails.
Several new trails have been established as a result of the 2016 Strategy including: Te Ara Koa, 629 climb, Whaimana, Te Tirohanga Whetū o Koata, Turners Extension, Te Ara Kōpiko, Tu Meke, Amp Up and Butters, as well as the Black Diamond upgrade.
In addition, Council has developed Piwakawaka track, the Saxton Field Grade 2 trail and partnered with the Ministry for Business Innovation and Employment, to construct the popular Brook Recreation Hub.
White says the relationship between different track users has also improved with proactive management under the 2016 Strategy and we have seen a decrease in reported conflict between users through education, improved signage, and the designation of pedestrian only tracks.
“Walkers and trampers continue to want peaceful places to walk, this is especially important for users such as the elderly, those with disabilities, and families with young children.”
To this end, several tracks including the Betsy Eyre Walk, the Maitai Walkway between Jickells Bridge and Domett Street and new trails in Eureka Park have been designated for pedestrian use only. The Strategy also proposes the Grampians Reserve to be designated solely for walking and running.
The Draft 2021 Strategy will open for public feedback in late August.