A direct route between Napier and Hastings along cyclepaths is an aspirational goal, but several years away says Hawke's Bay Regional Council Cycle Network Co-ordinator, Vicki Butterworth.

She said although there was $2.6 million of funding in place for three extensions to the Hawke's Bay Trails over the next five years, a direct route was yet to be determined.

Central government is providing half the funding for the three extensions to the Hawke's Bay Trails, with one making a direct route to Taradale more likely in the future.

"Ideally we would like to go into Taradale as well, providing a suitable commuter route as much as it is for tourism, in linking Taradale to the wineries' ride, providing a commuter route connecting Hastings through to Taradale and EIT," she said.

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The first extension to be built over the next five years will be from Bay View to Whirinaki, which will be handy for workers at one of the region's largest employers, Pan Pac.

It sits close to an entrance to the Pan Pac Eskdale Mountain Bike Park. The park is one of the biggest in the country with 44km of trails spread over 530ha.

While the 7.5km Bay View to Whirinaki extension is the shortest of the three projects, it doesn't come cheap with a walking and cycling bridge over the Esk River needed.

Butterworth said the Ngaruroro River extension would be the second project followed by a ride along the Karamu Stream, linking Havelock North to the Hawke's Bay Trail's Winery ride in Bridge Pa "to provide better connectivity between Havelock which is booming with accommodation, cafes – everything a cyclist needs - getting them off busy roads and providing an attractive green corridor as much as we can beside the Karamu Stream".

Started as a Rotary initiative in 2002, the 200km Hawke's Bay Trails are now one of 22 Great Rides across New Zealand.

They're made even greater by the extensive Napier and Hastings councils' cycleways, which are constantly expanding. Last week, Hastings District Council announced a new cyclepath would be built along Havelock North's Napier Road towards Whakatu, an employment precinct.

Butterworth said more than 600,000 trips of walking and cycling were counted on the Trails last year.

"Part of that is having some hero events on our trails that really showcase them. For cycling we've just had the Big Easy at Easter."

Half of the participants were from outside Hawke's Bay.

At last year's Air New Zealand Hawke's Bay International Marathon Run, 76 per cent of the 4000 participants were from other regions, she said.

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