The Government will spend $13.2 million extending the Otago cycle trail network to link 30 communities.

Around 122km of new trail will be built to connect the Clutha Gold Trail, Otago Central Rail Trail, Roxburgh Gorge Trail and Queenstown Trails, and extend the network north to Wanaka. A further 47km of existing trail will be upgraded.

Tourism Minister Kelvin Davis said the 530km continuous cycle trail network across the Otago region would spread tourism spending to more communities and create an estimated 329 full-time jobs.

The total project cost is $26.4m. The Government contribution, awarded through the Ngā Haerenga, the New Zealand Cycle Trail fund, is being matched by local funding, primarily through the Central Lakes Trust and Otago Community Trust.

"The new Central Otago Queenstown Trail Network will help draw visitors off the beaten track and encourage people to stay longer and spend more in communities beyond the main tourist spots," Davis said.

It is estimated the number of people riding the trail will more than double to 174,000 by 2032, and the average length of time that trail users stay in the area will increase by 33 per cent.


North Island trails are also getting more money.

Davis announced a total contribution of $281,313 to the Hauraki Rail Trail, Hawke's Bay Trails and Waikato River Trails through a maintenance fund to help with emergency safety work and damage repair.

"The Government wants to see regional New Zealand sharing in the economic success of the country as a whole, he said.

''As our biggest export earner, tourism is a fundamental part of the New Zealand economic story, and we're committed to spreading those benefits far and wide," Davis said.

The New Zealand Cycle Trail started nearly a decade ago and is a network of 22 ''Great Rides'' across the country, used by more than a million people per year.