New Zealand cycle tourism gives regions a boost to Covid-19 recovery visitors

The Te Awa River Ride is Waikato’s newest bike route. Photo / Provided

New Zealand’s iconic cycle routes are experiencing a boom and new research shows they are helping the tourism sector recover from the impacts of Covid-19.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has released two reports on cycling in New Zealand, one analyzes the 23 Great Rides of the Ngā Haerenga cycle route network and the other explores cycle tourism here and in Australia.

Reports show that the cycle routes have boosted local tourism in the areas where they are located, but the reopening of borders also offers an opportunity to put New Zealand on the map for international and Australian cycle tourists.

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Nash says: “Bicycle trails and cycle tourism are incredibly popular with Kiwis, whether they live locally or are exploring further afield. Cyclists and walkers seem to have taken Tourism NZ’s promotion to heart to do something new, New Zealand.

The Waikato is home to five of the Great Rides, the Hauraki Rail Trail, the Waikato River Trails, the Timber Trail in Ruapehu District, and the Great Lake Trail in Taupo.

Nash says all Great Rides have seen an increase in visitor numbers over the past year with a total of nearly 2.19 million trips in the year through June 30, 2021. February 2019 to February 2020, 1.98 million have been registered.

“This is a…10.3% increase in trail use…Following the border closure in 2020, Kiwi families have increasingly taken their bikes and walked outdoors .”

He says there has also been a corresponding increase in “economic activity” as visitor spending attributed to Great Rides bike routes increased to $951 million in the year to June 2021.

Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has released two reports on cycle routes and cycle tourism.  Photo / Provided
Tourism Minister Stuart Nash has released two reports on cycle routes and cycle tourism. Photo / Provided

“[Trail users] spent more on regional accommodation, food, beverage and hospitality providers and associated tourism and leisure activities such as transport or cultural events. Cycle paths make a direct economic contribution to the regions. »

Nash says bike lanes and cycle tourism don’t just boost local economies. “They also benefit the health of cyclists and walkers.”

The Cycle Tourism Insights report shows that the potential local cycle tourism market is 1.8 million people, but with the reopening of the border, new opportunities are emerging.

“The reopening of the Australian tourism market provides a great opportunity to develop cycle tourism in New Zealand… Australia’s potential cycle tourism market is approximately 6.9 million people.”

According to Nash, market development opportunities include better options for people with disabilities and their families, cyclists, a low-carbon tourism option and better-connected destinations.

The 22 Great Rides of Ngā Haerenga assessment was commissioned by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE). The Cycle Tourism Insights research report was done separately at the same time.

For more information on the 23 Great Rides, click here.

Both reports are available on the MBIE website here.