A proposal for a network of exceptional cycle rides that could be linked up into a national cycleway over time has been finished and is due to be discussed by the Cabinet today.

Officials have finished a proposal that is heavily modified from Prime Minister John Key's original vision of a concrete path from Kaitaia to Bluff.

Cycle advocates who assisted the Ministry of Tourism with the proposal told the Herald the network would include existing tracks, like the Otago Central Rail Trail, and pick up significant planned cycleways as well.

Mountain biking guide author Jonathan Kennett said he believed the Government's role would be one of "supporting" the network, rather than developing it outright.

Mr Kennett said the Government would back proposals that were ready to go, such as a cycleway from Queenstown's Lake Wakatipu to Bluff, then assess other opportunities later.

He said the Government would likely take a role in overall promotion and publicity of the network.

John Willmer, Bike NZ's development manager, said he believed the Government would take a "hard-line business return" angle when deciding what trails would be in it.

"[The Government] might say: 'bring us your plans for the trail and bring us the plans for the businesses you are going to develop around it'."

Mr Willmer said the Government would be discrete, and start by supporting seven high-value riding opportunities. He said the rides would be community-driven initiatives.

This would avoid the Government taking the risk of determining a route which would mean creating winners and losers.

"That means you are not ruling out any community saying: 'we want a piece of this action'."

Mr Willmer understood the Department of Conservation was working on a proposed cycleway from Cape Reinga, which, along with the Lake Wakatipu-Bluff route, could provide "symbolic" starting points at each end of the country.

Axel Wilke, co-chair of Cycling Advocates' Network, said the individual trails did not have to be owned by councils, but by private trusts.

Finance Minister Bill English has confirmed there will be funding for a national cycleway, although it will be less than the $50 million estimate originally put forward by Mr Key.

Planning consultant Mike Barnett, who researched the Lake Wakatipu-Bluff route on behalf of Venture Southland, said the Ministry of Tourism had found "the practical thing was a network of excellent cycle opportunities in New Zealand which may lead to bigger things later".

Mr Barnett said the network could be totally inter-linked "in 10 or 20 years' time".

The Lake Wakatipu-Bluff route could be ready in time for the 2011 Rugby World Cup, as research for it had been underway for three years.

A spokeswoman for Mr Key said work on the cycleway was progressing, but could not confirm if it would be discussed by the Cabinet today.