The evaluation of the Great Rides of Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail, includes an independent cost benefit analysis showing that for every dollar attributable to construction and maintenance of the trails, approximately $3.55 of benefits was generated.
Around 1.3 million people visited the 22 Great Rides in 2015. The majority of those were New Zealanders, with international visitors making up 13.5 per cent, or 114,000 users.
The New Zealand Cycle Trail initiative supports the Government’s tourism strategy, which is designed to help the sector attract high-value visitors and investment, not only to tourism hotspots during peak seasons, but to a range of regions and throughout the year.
Through revenue from visitor spending, the Great Rides are estimated to have produced $37.4 million in economic benefits in 2015. Anecdotal evidence shows the trails are helping to revitalise regional communities and boost local businesses and job numbers.
The report estimates social benefits of an additional $12 million, generated through reduced mortality and cost savings from diseases associated with physical inactivity and from people using the trails to commute.
Great Ride governance structures were also examined as part of the evaluation, with key factors for successful governance identified. These include having a clear strategy, marketing expertise and dedicated resource for trail maintenance.