A new, family-friendly cycle trail has opened in Westport. It’s the first leg of a 55km coastal trail that locals believe will attract a wider range of people than the riders currently flocking to the region’s advanced mountain bike trails.
The 5km Pūwaha section of the proposed, 55km Kawatiri Coastal Trail runs from Westport to Carters Beach and wends its way through wetlands, coastal forest, a wildlife sanctuary and historic Maori and European settler sites. A 45m suspension bridge is a standout feature on the track, which was ridden or walked by several hundred locals within days of opening.
Pūwaha is the first of nine stages of the proposed walking and cycling heritage trail that will link Westport with the communities of Carters Beach, Cape Foulwind, Tauranga Bay and Charlestown, and take in a variety of coastal landscapes and mining and settler history.
Local retailers and tourism operators said it will appeal to a wider range of people than the advanced riders currently attracted to the Old Ghost Road and Paparoa Track.
“Those riders often just ride the tracks and head home, they don’t hang around and they don’t bring their families to town because they think there’s nothing here for them to do,” said Adrian Nicholson, of Westport bike shop Habitat Sports. “The Kawatiri Trail will have appeal for families and the sort of riders who currently enjoy trails like the West Coast Wilderness Trail and Otago Rail Trail. They like to stop and visit breweries and wineries and local attractions.”
Punakaiki Beach Camp co-owner Jed Findlay plans to expand his shuttle service to encompass the Kawatiri Coastal Trail. “That trail will really complement the West Coast Wilderness Trail,” he said. “We can see business growing if we can link the trails together. People can come to the Coast and have a really good experience exploring all the different options.”
The remaining eight trail sections are scheduled to be completed by June 2022. The trail has been built to New Zealand Cycle Trail guidelines for a grade 2 track.