Cycleway would ‘boost business’

by Paul Campbell

Kaipara District Council is pressing ahead with plans for a 36-kilometre cycleway along the route of the historic Kaihu Valley rail line between Dargaville and Donnellys Crossing, in partnership with Te Roroa and the Department of Conservation.

“Council is now undertaking early engagement with the landowners and leaseholders of properties adjacent to the route to hear their views on the proposal, said council spokesman, Ben Hope.

It will be the first stage of an ongoing engagement process throughout the project and will help the development of a preliminary design for the trail and establish whether there is ongoing community support.

“The project would generate positive benefits for Dargaville and surrounding areas through additional visitor spending on retail, accommodation and food outlets, new employment and business opportunities, and generate social and cultural benefits associated with recreational activities and cultural tourism,” Mr Hope said.

“The proposal follows the success and popularity of other cycling trails in New Zealand and has been a project of interest in the district for a number of years. We would like to see similar beneficial effects for our community.”

The Kaihu Valley Rail Trail (KVRT) was identified as part of the 2017 review of Kaipara’s walking and cycling strategy and indicated by the council as a priority project to focus on, given the opportunities to generate positive economic, social and cultural impacts on the western side of the Kaipara District.

Central government’s Provincial Growth Fund has provided an opportunity to seek financial support.

The trail would start and end at the rail station in Dargaville and travel north to Donnellys Crossing utilising the Kaihu Valley railway corridor that was constructed in 1896.

The now redundant railway line runs alongside State Highway 12, and the old embankment can still be seen as part of adjoining farmland.