A new eco-friendly lodge opening at the mid-point of the popular Timber Trail at Pureora is expected to have spin-offs for tourism in the Rotorua and Taupo districts.
At present people who want to ride the complete 85km grade three trail, which is part of the New Zealand Cycle Trails, must either complete the trail in one day, ride 7km off the trail to the closest accommodation at Black Fern Lodge, or camp at the DoC Piropiro campground.
Adding a lodge at the half way point is expected to make the trail more attractive to visitors, particularly international riders, who would likely ride the trail as part of a longer visit to the Central North Island biking areas.
The Government has contributed $1.2m towards the Timber Trail Lodge construction as part of its Tourism Growth Partnership Fund, with the rest coming from private investors in the company Timber Trail Adventures Ltd, which will operate the lodge.
The main part of the lodge and 10 rooms with 25 beds in total will open just before Easter and over winter another series of rooms will be constructed to bring the lodge to 50 beds by the end of the year.
Timber Trail Adventures Ltd also has a concession to build cabins beside the lodge, which will add another 30 beds.
As of last year the Government has spent $60 million on the New Zealand Cycle Trail, which is helping attract visitors into the regions.
Billed as New Zealand's finest two-day mountain bike ride, the Timber Trail is about two hours' drive from Rotorua and runs through Pureora Forest Park and along a historic bush tramway.
Rider numbers last year were estimated at between 6000 and 6500, mainly from October to April, and are expected to rise.
The lodge is planned to open on April 12 and project manager Bruce Maunsell said there had already been strong demand for Easter and Anzac weekend, with numbers trailing off over winter and then picking up again in October and November.
The lodge will provide dorm, twin and double rooms, some with shared facilities and others with an ensuite, with a communal lounge area and bar. Dinner, breakfast and bed linen are included in the tariff so riders will only need their cycling gear.
The lodge will be run largely off-grid and while a generator will be used initially to charge its battery bank, solar panels will be installed at the end of the year. Water will be supplied by an on-site spring and rainwater with a biodynamic waste water system. There will even be a charging area for e-bikes.
Mr Maunsell said the lodge project was also injecting money into the local economy, with King Country builders and contractors being used as often as possible.
He said with the trail mostly attracting domestic riders so far, most riders came to the Timber Trail direct.
However, he expected that international riders who came to explore the bike trails around Rotorua and Taupo would begin to include the Timber Trail as part of an overall riding package, and the company was dealing with regional tourism organisations to help further promote the region as a cycling destination.