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Arthurs Point to Arrowtown Wharehuanui Trail

New trail set to open in early 2024

Construction of the Kuperus Crossing Bridge
Queenstown Trails

The plan outlines Queenstown Trails ambitious new goals which are all based around core values to inspire adventures, create experiences, and connect people. Furthermore, it aims to enhance the trail network and broaden the scope of trails on offer, from accessible cycleways and active transport routes to multiday adventures and backcountry single track....and first cab off the rank is the new Arthurs Point to Arrowtown Wharehuanui Trail.

Trail Hub caught up with Willy to get an update on new trails which are currently under construction, in particular the Wharehuanui Trail, which we’d heard was about 60-70% complete - so, naturally, we wanted to get the inside word on when it will be ready to ride!  

Willy is a busy man, with a long list of trails either under construction or in the planning phase.

TH: How long is the new Arrowtown to Arthurs Point Trail? Where does it start / finish?
Its 17km from Arrowtown to Arthurs Point, starting from Millbrook on the existing Countryside Trail and heading upstream along Mill Creek to connect with the base of Hot Rod and Dan O’Connell Tracks at the base of Coronet Peak (also an entry point into the Coronet Loop). The trail continues along the base of Coronet Peak and descends towards Arthurs Point, with a junction offering a ‘tunnel bypass route’ directing into the Lower Shotover Conservation Area, whilst the main route connects into the shared pathway outside Cargo Brewery. From here there are options to descend to Big Beach and the Kimiakau Gorge via a 108m historic tunnel or continue on the soon-to-be built Active Transport route directly into Queenstown.

TH: Is it a completely new trail, or have you integrated existing tracks or trails?
It’s a completely new trail – using sections of unformed legal roads, esplanade reserves and public easements over private land.

TH: Describe the landscape, scenery, and features of the new trail and what do you think are the highlights?
The Wharehuani basin offers stunning landscapes and vistas of the Remarkables to the south as it follows Mill Creek to its origin at Downeys Dam, traversing rolling terrain in and out of gullies at the foot of Coronet Peak en route to Arthurs Point. The next stage of the project offers a spectacular journey through the historic tunnel into the stunning lower gorge of the Shotover River, traversing the steep cliffs of the canyon with incredible views of the Kimiakau River below, before reaching the new 90m Kimiakau suspension bridge where the gorge meets the Tucker Beach Recreation Reserve.

Great progress on the Wharehuanui Trail as it meanders through Millbrook Resort, Arrowtown

Surveying the Kimiakau Bridge Connection Trail – Lower Shotover Conservation Area

TH: What grade is the new trail / who is it suitable for?
The new trail is predominantly grade 2, with some short sections of grade 3 to cope with moderate gradients and challenging terrain between Arthurs Point and Arrowtown. The section from the tunnel to the Kimiakau suspension bridge is a mix of grade 2 and 3, with isolated short sections of grade 4 exiting the tunnel to cope with the challenging terrain.

TH: Have you seen any new infrastructure developed and / or planned to be developed to support the new trail e.g. cafes, accommodation etc.?
Significant developments at Cargo Brewery for food and beverage and to develop a bike-related ‘workspace’ for visiting athletes to blog their experience is underway. Also proposed are several remote ‘trail hubs’ which will see remote e-bike charging with solar panels, water and shelter to be installed by QTT as funding allows.

TH: How do you think the trail will benefit the local communities e.g. recreational or economic opportunities, wellbeing etc.?
The new trail will see Arthurs Point become a key ‘trail town’, where until now it has been isolated from the network. The integration with the MTB trails on Coronet Peak and Mahu Whenua will enable local riders to commute all the way home from their favourite trailhead rather than shuttle the car.
The Arrowtown to Arthurs Point Route also overlaps with one of the proposed active transport routes, providing commuters with a safe off-road opportunity to link the towns. The downstream route to Tucker Beach and Frankton will soon also include opportunities to continue from Arthurs Point to Frankton and cross SH6 to the high school via the new Waka Kotahi overbridge at Jims way and the ‘Impact100 Link Trail’, also planned for development by QTT.
Not only does this bring obvious health and wellbeing outcomes, but the more we can encourage the next generation to take up active modes of transport and shift away from private car use, the sooner we will get to our carbon zero by 2030 goals and a positive impact on reducing the effects of climate change.

David Talbot and Mark Walter (MBIE) and Alex Bedford (M3 Contracting) inspect the boardwalk construction.

Wharehuanui Trail - Arthurs Point to Coronet Peak section under construction.

TH: Have specialist contractors been used to build the trail?
The trail has seen some great contractors tender for the work and design / build the trail. First and foremost, Giulio Chapman-Olla from Southern Civil Consulting has been instrumental in the project from its inception, with his incredible depth of knowledge and detail in getting everything done properly and efficiently from the start. The trail was designed by Stephen and the team at Patterson Pitts Group, with specialist designs for the bridges provided by Stantec (Lachy and Derek) and WSP for the Tunnel (Rob).

M3 contracting have done an incredible job of the trail construction so far and we’re really proud of the product they are delivering and the way they work. Specialist trail builders Elevate have been consulting on the difficult section to the tunnel, and Edefice have just been awarded the contract for the bridge, with the tunnel to be awarded next month.

TH: How has the new trail been funded?
50% of the funding was secured with a grant from MBIE via Ngā Haerenga the New Zealand Cycle Trail Incorporated's (NZCT) Enhance and Expand fund through a business case submitted back in 2019. The other 50% is sourced locally by a generous grant from Central Lakes Trust and donations from philanthropist donors and ‘Trail Lovers’ - supporters who recognise the importance of the trails to our community.

TH: How do you fund ongoing maintenance and repairs?
We are very fortunate to have the support of the Queenstown Lakes District Council who adopt the trails – part of the Ngā Haerenga Great Rides of New Zealand network - as part of their premier maintenance programme (under the Parks and Reserves Team). We have a great working relationship with QLDC and thank them for their ongoing support with maintenance of the Queenstown Trail!

Spring maintenance along the Coronet Loop.

TH: And the million-dollar question…. When will the new trail be open?!
Estimations are that the Arthurs Point to Arrowtown | Wharehuanui Trail should be open by the end of February 2024, with the Shotover Gorge Trail (Arthurs Point to Tucker Beach) following hot on its heels by the middle of 2024.

TH: Thanks for taking the time to chat with us Willy, and huge thanks to the Queenstown Trails team and all your contractors. Keep up the great work and we can't wait to go for a spin on the new trails!

The Coronet Loop was recently completed by Queenstown Trails and is a spectacular single track, backcountry adventure!

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