Posted by Ruth Woodward
A $150,000 investment in the Paengaroa to Rotoiti cycle trail by the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) will provide an important link in the development of the Tauranga to Rotorua cycleway.
The funding follows from a community working day in September organised by the Western Bay of Plenty District Council and the Bay of Plenty Charitable Trails Trust to begin clearing an overgrown connection between Paengaroa and Okere through the Roydon Downs Scenic Reserve.
This link will enable cyclists to avoid using a busy section of SH33 and when completed, the trail to Rotorua will form part of the Bay of Plenty’s network of cycle trails and the New Zealand Cycle Trail network.
Western Bay of Plenty District Council project coordinator, Geoff Canham, is delighted the funding has been approved and attributes it to the success of the working bee to which more than 90 people volunteered their effort.
“I have no doubt this funding is a result of the Paengaroa community’s leadership and massive voluntary effort,’’ says Geoff.
“The funding is needed to surface the final trail through the bush area and provide some trail construction works. Conversations are underway with local iwi for trail naming and interpretive works to convey the values and history of the area as a feature of the ride.’’
The reserve is a bush area between the Western Bay and Rotorua Lakes Districts and connects the trail through beautiful native bush from Paengaroa into the lakes area North of Okere, with cyclists able to cycle into Okere and, in the future, to Rotorua, or back to Papamoa.
Paengaroa Volunteers’ leader Marty Robinson has been working with NZTA and the local community to achieve the trail link to get cyclists off the state highway.
“We are super excited to have news that the surfacing and bridge work on the Paengaroa to Okere falls link is going ahead. I thank Western Bay of Plenty District Council and the Transport Agency for helping us make this project go from an idea to a reality.
“We see many benefits coming from this heartland trail, both to our local community through economic and active outcomes and to the wider community via a safer cycling route taking touring cyclists and others off State Highway 33.”
Transport Agency project manager Jonathan Kennett says the hours achieved at the community day contributed to NZTA’s funding decision.
“Currently people can cycle from Papamoa to Paengaroa and this new link will join the future trail to Rotorua from Okere Falls. Ultimately there will a connection through Tauranga to Waihi Beach. One day people will be able to cycle from Auckland to Rotorua as part of the New Zealand Cycle Network.”
The Okere Falls to Paengaroa trail is mainly on local roads and the bush section is currently an unsurfaced trail and, until surfaced, is only suitable for mountain bikes.
Starting at Okere Falls, it follows State Highway 33, Maniatutu Rd, Lichenstein Rd, through the new bush section in the Roydon Downs Reserve and back via Ridge Road, Royden Downs Rd and Old Coach Rd to Paengaroa.
The trail has a gravel surface for about 10 kilometres with stunning views to the offshore islands and Bay of Plenty coast. Along the way are the Paengaroa cafes, the Comvita Visitor Centre, with onward options to Papamoa Beach or Maketu.
Work will begin this summer and the trail connection is expected to be completed by February 2019.