Trail construction is currently co-funded by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment and local Councils, however accessing additional funding for maintenance and upgrades of trails continues to be a battle, with available funding continuously falling short of what is required.
Lucianne White, Alps 2 Ocean (A2O) Trail Manager, reports that providing signage, toilets, shelters, health and safety management, water sources plus enhancements are all essential and come at a cost.
To assist with the shortfall and ease the burden on ratepayers, South Island based cycle outfitter Cycle Journeys have worked on a mechanism to apply to their business model which commits them to donate $45,000, 15% of their luggage revenue, to the trails they currently operate on in 2021.
Cycle Journeys CEO Geoff Gabites, says the luggage levy they have introduced on the A2O and West Coast Wilderness Trail will generate much needed additional funding to support ongoing trail maintenance.
“We frequently get clients asking who has paid for the amazing trail they have just completed and how can they contribute. Although there are donation boxes available on the trail, while on their adventure clients are focussed on their experience and just don’t get around to it. Our initiative provides an easy way for them to directly contribute, without interrupting their experience.”
Simon Bastion, Chief Executive of the Westland District Council knows just how the positioning of the West Coast Wilderness Trail leaves it vulnerable to the elements and how important additional maintenance and upkeep funding is due to this.
"The West Coast is often the first to meet the brunt of the majority of weather events and having this additional support helps us repair and maintain the trail to a high standard. This will also assist in helping us plan to enhance the trail even further in the coming years.”
During April this year, Cycle Journeys moved 2354 items of luggage equalling a staggering 35.3 ton - the approximate weight of seven elephants - on the A2O trail alone.
“Around 60% of our trail riders utilise the luggage transfer aspect of our offer and we see this donation as a great start to not only making the trails more sustainable, but also reducing the burden on local Councils and rate payers.”
Across the many cycle trails throughout the country, funding at Council level has been recognised as a major issue and Cycle Journeys believes their new funding model is a first in New Zealand.