Numbers pedalling the Mountains to Sea Cycle trails all the way to Whanganui are set to increase through new tour packages offered in the coming summer.
Whanganui Tours & Mail Run owners Tracey Marshall and Linda Andracic will offer a whole network of transport, food and accommodation options for trampers and cyclists, starting in October.
Marshall and Andracic bought the business in November last year. Marshall was brought up at Koriniti and can talk about the river as she delivers the mail.
Last summer she carried cyclists and bicycles several times. This year she plans to expand that and is on a mission to get Mountains to Sea/Ngā Ara Tūhono cyclists to Whanganui.
The trails run from Tūroa ski area on Mt Ruapehu to the North Mole in Whanganui. But they can be done in pieces and many finish at Pipiriki, skipping the Whanganui River Rd and Whanganui sections.
"They have just got to come to Whanganui," Marshall said.
"I think it's better than Ohakune. There's so much to do here."
The packages will include transport from Whanganui to the trail start, accommodation at five places on the Whanganui River Rd, luggage transfer, bike and electric bike hire, packed lunches and meals, jetboat transfers and a spot tracker that allows Marshall to follow her visitors' progress.
She would combine this with her mail run, which was going to make for "massive juggling this season", she said.
She may be able to include Air Chathams flights in the packages.
It was a timely expansion because use of the trails was growing, Mountains to Sea trail champion Lynley Twyman said.
New counters were installed in December and they show there have been 42,653 cycling and walking trips on the trails since then.
In the same time 5106 people cycled the Whanganui River Rd.
The most popular Mangapurua section had 4708 people reach the Bridge to Nowhere, which Twyman said reflected the fantastic work the Conservation Department had done on the difficult bluff section there.
That section is now closed until October, because winter makes the bluffs less stable and shorter daylight hours make late jetboat pickups tricky.
Usage of the trails had increased 174 per cent year on year, and forward bookings were looking good, Twyman said.
She's asking cyclists to add to the trails' success by giving their feedback, even if they have only done one section.
The feedback is used to make improvements and lobby for funding. Feedback can be given online at mountainstosea.nz/support, or by scanning a QR code on the map signs en route.