The 70km long cycleway project, which is being built in sections from Ngaruawahia to Cambridge, is one of 13 projects nationwide to receive funding through the central government’s Urban Cycling Fund.
Te Awa general manager, Jennifer Palmer says the $1.25million Urban Cycle funding, combined with funding from Waikato District Council, the NZ Transport Agency and donations from the project’s supporters will fast track the $4.5 million Horotiu to Ngaruawahia section, allowing construction to start in February.
“The Te Awa River Ride project began in 2010 with a goal to link the Waikato communities of Ngaruawahia, Horotiu, Hamilton, Tamahere and Cambridge by river side cycleway, she says.
“A $3m investment from the Perry Foundation kicked off the project and a further $5.5m has been raised since then thanks to the vision and commitment of local supporters. Of particular note was a $900,000 investment from WEL Energy Trust which, along with significant donations from Fonterra, the Waikato River Authority and the Lion Foundation enabled the completion of the Horotiu section.
“Having funding support from central government is significant. It is recognition of this project’s long term health, economic and environmental benefits to the region.”
Ms Palmer says the investment could include funds to build a bridge over the Waikato river, creating a new destination in the heart of Ngaruawahia.
“Our goal was for Te Awa to promote health and wellbeing by being an easy, accessible and beautifully scenic cycleway, but we believe the economic benefits will be a game changer too,” she says.
“On average, more than 6000 people a week use the other parts of the Te Awa River Ride already – imagine the cycle tourism and commercial opportunities – bike hire, accommodation, cafes, tours and events - that could develop in and around Ngaruawahia as a result of this exciting project.
“The planned bridge could become a real icon, something that draws visitors to Ngaruawahia, just like Vancouver’s famous Capilano Suspension Bridge which attracts over 750,000 people a year to the area. The possibilities here are endless and we can’t wait to see it complete.”
Hamilton & Waikato Tourism Chief Executive Kiri Goulter says there is clear evidence from within the region and across the rest of the country, that increased tourism activity is being experienced as a result of cycleways.
“Cycleways have proven to be a catalyst for businesses development within local communities and the completion of Te Awa will not only highlight the region’s fantastic natural assert of the Waikato River but also attract more visitors and encourage a longer length of stay and spend in the Hamilton & Waikato region,” she says.
“With the announcement of Te Awa’s central govt funding, along with sections of three ‘Great Rides’ (Waikato River Trails, Hauraki Rail Trail and The Timber Trail), the Avantidrome – The Home of Cycling and strong BMX, mountain biking and road cycling communities based here, the region is in a fantastic position to capitalise on the growing trend in cycle tourism.”
Waikato District Mayor, Allan Sanson says Waikato District Council saw the potential and value in Te Awa from the projects inception.
“Not only is Te Awa a great opportunity for economic development for the whole of the Waikato district, it’s a great community project,” he says.
“It’s also an example of what can be achieved for communities through collaboration. So much of that is down to the strong relationships we have with the NZTA and the Te Awa Trust.”
Olympic gold medallist and Te Awa Trust trustee, Sarah Ulmer says the project will help create a cyclist culture in the region, helping people to get healthier and happier.
“It’s well documented that good cycling infrastructure makes cities and towns better places to live – we get fitter and healthier and happier when we bike and it takes pressure off our roads too,” she says.
“The opportunity now for our region here in the Waikato is massive. Creating a real culture for people to want to get on bikes - through a safe and inspirational environment – is really exciting.
“Having more commuters heading to work on bikes, kids getting back to riding to school and people just generally getting around on bikes would be an amazing result for our communities.
“This new partnership is extremely significant, it’s great to have central government backing but the project still needs to raise significant funds and we encourage more of the region’s leaders to get on board so we can complete the Great New Zealand River Ride, showcase what the Waikato has to offer and create a true legacy for our awesome region.”
The Horotiu to Ngaruawahia section is expected to open to cyclists and pedestrians in November 2015.
For more information on Te Awa – Great New Zealand River Ride go to http://te-awa.org.nz/
Horotiu to Ngaruawahia section of Te Awa: Total Cost: $4.5M
Urban Cycle Fund: $1.25M NZ
Transport Agency: $1.25M
Te Awa Trust, local partners and Waikato District Council: $2M
- Te Awa cycleway - starts in Ngaruawahia and passes through Horotiu, Hamilton, Cambridge and Karapiro before extending to link with the Waikato River Trail at Horahora.
- Nearly 20km of new trail sections already built and being used, along with the extensive network through Hamilton City.
- Partnership between Te Awa Trust, central government, Waikato District Council and the NZ Transport Agency will fund the $4.5M Horotiu to Ngaruawahia section
- When Te Awa is complete, commuters in the Waikato surrounds especially those in close proximity to Cambridge and Hamilton will be able to cycle to work and to events, enabling exercise to be integrated into their daily lives and easing congestion and pollution.
- Part of the Te Awa ride is to bring people to the River and educate them about the River through communication strategies. The ride will be the catalyst for educating the community about the degraded state of the River.
- The trail is being enhanced with interactive pieces of art, sculptures, story boards, signage, scenic look-outs, and facilities such as park benches and bike racks.
The Te Awa River Ride is a cycleway set against the stunning backdrop of the Waikato River. It will eventually travel 70km between Ngaruawahia and Horahora and connect to the Waikato River Trails.
First and foremost, Te Awa promotes health and wellbeing by being an easy, accessible and beautifully scenic cycleway. The gentle contour, smooth surface and width of the track caters to both the novice cyclist and the elite rider and is appropriate for everyone from people wheelchairs, to mums and prams and mobility scooters. Being off road means that Te Awa is also a very safe active experience which, combined with its proximity to major hubs and other sites of significance, will encourage new riders to use it both for recreation, and for commuting. The Waikato River is an enormously important taonga for our region and creating access to this landmark has significant cultural benefits. Te Awa will help foster a legacy of understanding and connection between the people of the Waikato and the river through art, signage, Pou, and interpretation panels along the trail, which can be supported by mobile apps, social media and websites. The development of Te Awa also provides the opportunity for important and much needed river restoration work. Te Awa creates access to difficult riparian stretches for planting, spraying, fencing, pest control and will grow community awareness around the health of the River
For more information contact:
Te Awa Trust
DDI 07 834 1925
Mobile 021 888 440