Whale Trail Funding Announced - Picton to Kaikōura Cycleway

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On Friday 24 July in Blenheim, Regional Economic Development under-secretary Fletcher Tabuteau announced that $18 Million had been allocated from the Provincial Growth Fund for the construction of the Whale Trail. 

At approximately 200km, the cycle trail (known as the ‘Whale Trail’) will connect the communities of Picton, Blenheim, Seddon, Ward, Kekerengu, Clarence and Kaikōura. This includes 30km that are currently part of NZTA and KiwiRail works to improve safety, access and amenities along State Highway 1. The 32km Picton to Blenheim stretch will be the first stage completed.

The Whale Trail has been in the planning stage since the 2016 Kaikōura earthquake. Its name is a nod to the importance of whales to the area. It also mirrors the whales’ migratory path, which the trail will follow down the East Coast of the South Island.

The trail will be accessible for a diverse range of ages and abilities, including families, and also surfaces which will include sealed path, road, boardwalk and gravel. It will work to the NZCT grades 1,2 and 3. 

A 200-kilometre cycle trail and walkway from Picton to Kaikōura is expected to deliver thousands of international tourists to Marlborough’s east coast when the three-year build is finished. The project was expected to create 42 full time jobs over three years of construction, with around 130 indirect jobs created each year through increased tourism in the area.

Coastal Pacific Trail Timeline

  • November 2016 7.8 Magnitude earthquake destroys much of the road and rail corridor between Blenheim and Kaikōura
  • Jan 2017 Coastal Pacific Cycle Trail idea is first floated and gains political support
  • Mar 2017 Christchurch, Wellington, Marlborough, Kaikōura and Hurunui Mayors back the project  
  • Jun 2017 Coastal Pacific Trail working group calls asks for feedback on where the route should go and what attractions it should highlight on the way from the Marlborough Sounds to Christchurch. Communities are invited to showcase their stories, history and beautiful spots normally hidden to travellers.
  • July 2017 -  then-Transport Minister Simon Bridges announces funding for an 11-kilometre cycle and walkway from Okiwi Bay to Mangamaunu as part of NZTA and KiwiRails ongoing earthquake recovery work.
  • Aug 2017  KiwiRail confirms it will look at stopping areas and bike carrying capcity in support of the trail.
  • Oct 2017  Rata foundation announces $600k of funding He said the funds would allow them to appoint key people. They were looking to start with a project manager with expertise in construction, and a executive officer to co-ordinate construction, promotions and marketing. 
  • November 2017 Marlborough Kaikōura Trail Trust formed  - nine trustees  sign a trust deed
  • June 2019  Government announcement of $322,000 of funding from Provincial Growth Fund, to enable a technical study to be completed. 
  • July 2020 Government announcement of $18 Million of funding from the Provincial Growth Fund to construct the trail.

Fit with the NZTA/KiwiRail (NCTIR) work along SH1

Since the November 2016 earthquake the NZTA and KiwiRail alliance known as the North Canterbury Transport Infrastructure Recovery (NCTIR) project have been rebuilding the damaged sections of State Highway One and the rail corridor.

This includes work to improve safety, access and amenities over a 60-kilometre section of State Highway 1 between Clarence and Oaro. Part of this work is a shared use path on a 20km stretch of road between Waipapa Bay and Mangamaunu. The intention is to eventually extend this shared path a further 10km south of Kaikōura.

This 30km section will eventually form part of the Coastal Pacific trail.

The final consents for this work were under special legislation that modified the normal process in the Resource Management Act 1991, called the Hurunui/Kaikōura Earthquakes Recovery (Coastal Route and Other Matters) Order 2016. Under this legislation Council had to grant the consent.

A number of residents and visitors have raised concerns about the impact of these planned works on marine access, culturally significant sites and the surfbreak at Mangamaunu. Council staff continue to help connect community members with NZTA and KiwiRail. In August 2018, NCTIR formed a Cultural Advisory Group as a pathway for discussing and finding a way forward for cultural concerns connected with the NCTIR project.

NZTA regional relationships director Jim Harland said there was "no plan to build on [or] adjacent to the urupā" and that it was hoped access to the mahinga kai, or food-gathering place, and the foreshore would be maintained.

Council recognises the value of the coastal strip to all of its users and guardians and the significance of cultural and archaeological matters.

Background and useful links: 


24 July 2020