Contractors are back at work on the Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail with hopes of completing the project in the new year.
Like many industries, workers on the trail had to down tools during Alert Level 4, which has pushed the completion date out to early next year.
Despite the delay, Central Otago Queenstown Trail Network Trust chairman Stephen Jeffery said he was pleased with progress.
“Things are moving along,’’ he said.
‘‘We were pretty much on target [before Covid-19]. Our plan was to be open in November or December. The best guess now is it will be early next year, to have completely finished the trails.”
The trail will stretch 54km and is part of the $26 million New Zealand Cycle Trail Project, funded by the Government, the Central Lakes Trust and the Otago Community Trust.
Sections of the trail are open and have proved popular among Central Otago residents who have used them during lockdown.
“What we’ve seen since we’ve been in lockdown is a resurgence in people out walking and cycling,” Mr Jeffery said.
“I’ve seen people everywhere, I’ve seen people I’ve never seen before on the trails and a lot of people out walking, riding bikes. It’s been good.”
He said there was a growing appreciation of our own backyard.
That trend was expected to extend into the domestic tourism market as people swapped overseas travel for holidays within New Zealand while the world recovered from the Covid-19 outbreak.
Central Otago Mayor Tim Cadogan said the completion of the Lake Dunstan Cycle Trail and progress being made on others in the district would “provide a shot in the arm right across the local economy”.
“People sometimes think that tourism only benefits a small part of the economy, but that couldn’t be further from the truth with virtually all sectors benefiting from the money tourists bring, either directly or indirectly.”
He said cycle trails were just some of the many attributes within the district that were still “somewhat undiscovered”.
“With overseas travel off the table for now, this will be the golden opportunity for [more New Zealanders] to come here; and I truly believe many will.”
He said Central Otago offered people what they would want as we “come out of our bubbles”.
“We are safe, we have beautiful scenery, great food and wine offerings and other great attractions, all one flight and a short drive from the major cities of New Zealand — once flights return to Queenstown.”
Tourism Central Otago is working to get that message out to New Zealanders after recently launching a short video showcasing what the district has to offer.
“I encourage everyone to go to the CODC Facebook page or website and share the video far and wide. That’s an easy way to join the team of 22,000 welcoming visitors back to Central.”