Yesterday I had the opportunity to attend the official opening of the Around the Mountains Cycle Trail in Lumsden, Southland and witnessed part of what New Zealand is doing with the Cycle Trails Network development to attract more international tourists to experience the beauty of New Zealand on two-wheels.
The turn-out in windy, but sunny, Lumsden was its largest in history for the small Southland town that also hosts a stage finish at the Tour of Southland. The first stage of the trail was opened by Deputy Prime Minister Bill English. English led a group of cyclists and a Scottish bag-piper to commemorate the momentous opening of what will become a popular trail for off-road cycling to experience the Southland region.
The Around the Mountains Trail allows cyclists with all abilities to explore and discover some of New Zealand’s most secluded and rustic rural settings at an easy pace with access to support services such as accommodations and shops along the route. The route begins in Kingston and snakes its way through the breathtaking Northern Southland countryside, stopping in the historic towns of Garston, Athol and Lumsden along the way. It then traverses west in the direction of Mossburn before heading up to the Lake Mavora area and through the stunning Von Valley and Mt Nicholas Station; it concludes at the Walter Peak Station at Lake Wakatipu.
The trail is the fruit of the partnership between the Southland District Council and the NZ Cycle Trails project. It is part of the big drive to attract more cycle tourists to New Zealand and provide the opportunity to interact with locals as well as learn about the history of New Zealand and its culture. Its a wonderful opportunity to be whisked back into time with the numerous quaint historic buildings and historical townships that were forged by the early New Zealand pioneers.