Families attracted to walking and biking in top of the south

Exercise and recreation is an important part of maintaining health and wellbeing. Health officials urged Kiwis to keep up daily exercise during the nationwide lockdown and in Nelson Tasman this message was taken on board.

Gill Wratt, Chair of the Nelson Tasman Cycle Trails Trust, says “it’s awesome to see people keen to use cycle trails. Our counters recorded increased user numbers in Levels 3 and 4. This was particularly evident where the cycleways and shared pathways are close to urban centres. For example our St Vincent Street, Whakatu Drive and Waimea Inlet counters had increased numbers of both pedestrians and cyclists during Levels 3 and 4.”

“Out on the Great Taste Trail in the weekend, it was humming with all ages, biking, walking and running - from families to older folks.  It is truly multi-purpose. These same trends were evident in the 2020 lock-downs, which illustrates that the cycleways are loved by all and are popular all year-round.”

The Waimea Inlet counter had more than double the usual number of cyclists and pedestrians. Sunny weather helped and numbers peaked at 1160 and 1001 on Saturday 28th and Sunday 29th August. 

Locals are taking advantage of the time to do exercise close to home. Whether heading off on a family outing, a trip to the shops to top up on supplies, or commuting to work as an essential worker, cycling has been a clear winner of the lockdown.

Wratt says, “it’s great to see children enjoying a good bike ride. With spring just around the corner, now’s the perfect time to start planning family adventures. Getting the whole family out on their bikes is a perfect way to explore the great outdoors, get some exercise and have fun too!”

Some innovative approaches are being taken.  One of the Trustees invented bike bingo for her family, a cycling treasure hunt, where riders search for clues and perhaps take a photo that they post to social media. You can play by yourself or with children - the main idea is to have fun with it and get out on the bike.  Check out the Great Taste Trail facebook page www.facebook.com/GreatTasteTrail

The Great Taste Trail, a 175km multi-day loop around the Nelson Tasman region, is a focus for the Trust. Wratt says “the aim is to create safe and diverse cycle experiences that showcase the best of the region. Our two Great Rides – Tasman’s Great Taste Trail and the Coppermine Trail – provide easy access for cyclists, walkers and runners.”

0ver three-quarters of the Great Taste Trail is now complete and the Trust is now concentrating on getting trail built from Tapawera to Ngatimoti. A major milestone for later this year will be constructing a bridge over the Baton River.

The Nelson Tasman region is spoilt for choice for recreation. As well as The Great Taste and Coppermine Trails, there are loads of shared pathways. The recently completed Tahunanui cycleway, funded by the Great Rides fund as part of a connection being developed from Nelson Airport to the beach, been very popular and is used by cyclists as well as pedestrians, mobility devices and scooters.  The big challenge is social distancing on the popular trails!

Wratt is in no doubt why these cycleways are so popular. "In order to get out and about, people are walking and cycling. Then once they’re out there, they discover the streets are relatively stress-free because traffic is low then they're encouraged to do more activity outdoors.

"That's probably why we are seeing so many families, especially with young kids, out enjoying their local trails during Levels 3 and 4."

For more information about the Nelson Tasman Cycle Trails Trust and the Coppermine Trail or Great Taste Trail, visit www.heartofbiking.org.nz