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Negotiating the rugged Cromwell Gorge and shores of Lake Dunstan to build a cycle trail has required lateral thinking by the contractor

The use of the borrowed barge is a first for Timaru-based M3 Contracting as work continues on the $6.6million Lake Dunstan Trail.

M3 general manager Andrew Bailey said the barge, which yesterday was ferrying gravel across Lake Dunstan at Champagne Gully, was needed because of the “steep and challenging terrain”.

While there was some access to the current work site lake from State Highway 6 risky terrain and the barge allowed work to progress at a faster rate, he said.

Soon the barge would provide the only access.

“There is about a 3km stretch between between Pickaxe Bluff and Hartleys Bluff where the barge will be the only way to transport gravel and earthmoving equipment.”

A boat had been built to “specifically to push it [the barge]”.

That had required the boat to be certified by Maritime Safety as fit for purpose.

Mr Bailey said he expected the work to be completed by Christmas, the only impediment being winds that typically swept down the Cromwell Gorge in spring.

Work started on the 54km trail between Clyde and Cromwell a year ago.

It is the first of 170km of new cycle trails being developed by the Central Otago Queenstown Trail Network to complement the Otago Central Rail Trail and the Roxburgh Gorge Trail, both Great Rides. About 500km of seamless grade 1 and 2 trails will be created throughout the region,costing $26.3million Government, Central Lakes Trust and Otago Community Trust.

The trail is expected to be open early next year after Covid-19 Alert Level 4 forced work to stop.