Mapua Ferry owner-operator Andrew Schwass can’t wait for the weather to get warmer and the Tasman Great Taste Cycle Trail to get longer.
Andrew is just starting the second season at the helm of the flat-bottomed ferry that provides a water bridge for cyclists between Rabbit Island and Mapua.
After a slow winter when the ferry’s sailings were limited to weekends, Andrew says business is picking up with summer sailing schedule now operating and around 250 passengers taking the ferry last Sunday.
“It’s a very seasonal business and we’ll get more passengers when it starts getting warmer. The weekdays are still pretty quiet but we we’re quite busy at the school holidays and we’ll be busy again around Christmas.”
However, what Andrew really wants is for the trail to reach the key destination of Kaiteriteri and then the final section from Kaiteriteri to Wakefield via the Motueka Valley to be completed. When it is finished, the Great Taste Cycle Trail will join Nelson, Richmond, Mapua, Kaiteriteri, Tapawera, Kohatu and Wakefield in a 175km loop.
“At the moment we are getting mostly locals out riding and I don’t expect the tourists to come until they can reach at least Kaiteriteri. It will be even better when the trail is finished and then it will become a real destination for tourists,” he says.
However, he says the Tasman District Council is doing a good job of building the trail because they it has to deal with so many issues like land ownership and funding.
Chairperson of the Cycle Trails Trust, which is responsible for marketing, maintaining and seeking new funding for the trail, Gill Wratt, agrees that reaching Kaiteriteri and then completing the loop are critical to its success.
“When we get to Kaiteriteri it will make it a more marketable ride and we can start to promote it nationally. Once the loop is completed then we can really start to say it is an international bike ride.”
Gill says extending the trail from Wakefield through to Kohatu will also be a key part of the project because riding through the disused Spooner’s Tunnel will appeal to a lot of cyclists.
The council development engineer Dugald Ley says they are on target to reach Kaiteriteri by Christmas although a small section will have to wait until the realignment of the road at Turner’s Bluff is completed. Cyclists will have to ride on the road for about 300m until the realignment is finished and a cycle underpass is installed.
Dugald says contractors are presently working on the trail near Aporo Rd after one of the key landowners, Alan Trent, agreed to allow the trail to go through his land.
Another new development will be the installation of bike counters on the trail so that the trust can monitor the number of cyclists.