With thanks to the visionaries at the QTT and QMBC
November 30 2020 by Scott Stevens
When former Prime Minister John Key started splashing cash on a bike trail networks across the country there was one group that was very quick to get organised and start building: The Queenstown Trails Trust (QTT). In my humble opinion the QTT is most successful such organisation in New Zealand. Before long we had connected Queenstown, Frankton, Arrowtown and Gibbston.
11 years on and the trail John Key imagined does not yet run from Bluff to Kaitaia. Not even close. The challenge of crossing private land the length of the country may keep that dream just that, a dream! But those challenges did not deter the QTT. Helped by typically generous Whakatipians and almost unanimous community support we have, 11 years on, a quite remarkable community asset.
Now in a domestic tourism world, the true value of this asset is being realised. It is no surprise Kiwis love to bike. It is relatively cheap to rent a bike, free if you have your own and the ground you cover is quite simply breathtaking. So many local businesses feed off our trail network and that is more important now than ever before, to have at least one booming industry in 2020/21.
Never an organisation to rest on their heels, the QTT are pushing ahead to close the loop in the Wakatipu via Arthurs Point and out of our district to neighbours, Central Otago through the Kawarau Gorge.
Then we come to the other reason the Queenstown Lakes is becoming such a biker’s drawcard, the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club. Like the QTT, in my opinion, they are the most successful mountain bike club in the country. Unlike the QTT, the Queenstown Mountain Bike Club have had to create amazing tracks on the smell of an oily rag. The volunteer effort, and skill of those volunteers is quite frankly phenomenal.
The tourism reset we experienced in May 2020 was forced and unwelcome. However, the simple fact of the matter is, it happened and the way it happened will most likely never come again. Now our focus moves, and what better than way the gentle low carbon footprint of peddle and electric bikes. Add to that the feet on our walking tracks and we have a low impact tourism activity that will draw people to our district from other parts of New Zealand who then go on to spend on accommodation, food and beverage, retail and other tourism related activities. We have a lot to be thankful for, particularly the visionary and hardworking brains behind the Queenstown Trails Trust and Queenstown Mountain Bike Club.