Temporary, alternative route for Twin Coast Cycle Trail

Published on 17 December 2021

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The Far North District Council will develop a temporary cycle trail along roadsides between Ōpua and Taumarere as an interim measure, while plans to develop a permanent cycle trail along the railway corridor are progressed as originally planned.

The Council opened the Ōpua-Taumarere section of the Twin Coast Cycle Trail along the rail corridor in 2014 on the understanding that the corridor would return to rail when the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway was extended from Taumarere to Opua.

As a member of the Northern Adventure Experience (NAX), the Council has been working with the Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust and the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail Trust to ensure that Ōpua and Kawakawa are joined by a scenic railway and a cycle trail. The intention was to build a new cycle trail alongside the recovered Ōpua-Taumarere section of the railway. However, design complexities, extra safety requirements and inflationary pressures on construction costs have made this option currently unviable. The Council is also continuing to work with parties to secure a long-term lease within the rail corridor. Because of this, the Council has decided to develop a temporary cycle trail between Ōpua and Taumarere via Oromāhoe and Whangae Roads, pending resolution of cost and lease issues. It will also temporarily withdraw from NAX which was formed to coordinate the extension of the railway and development of a new cycle trail within the rail corridor on a similar timeline.

Mayor Carter says the Council has a good governance relationship with the vintage railway and cycle trail trusts and supports their aspirations for the rail corridor. However, the current complications have forced it to reassess the timeframe for a cycle trail alongside the Ōpua-Taumarere section of the railway.

“Complex issues including, design, cost and lease arrangements need to be resolved to ensure that ratepayer funding in our Long-Term Plan 2021-31 is protected.”

The Council will honour its promise to upgrade Te Raupo Road where residents have been driving on the cycle trail to access properties. However, it will progress an alternative route while it continues to work with the trusts to resolve issues and complete the project.

“The decision we have made allows us to protect the coast-to-coast brand without exposing the Council and ratepayers to unacceptable risk.”

The Council also supports arrangements that are under negotiation with the Trust to allow cyclists to take their bikes on trains from Kawakawa to Ōpua when the vintage railway is completed.

“The Bay of Islands Vintage Railway is an outstanding tourism asset. We appreciate the option for cyclists to enjoy the vintage railway experience pending the development of a new cycle trail from Opua to Taumarere.”