It was a day of celebration on Saturday, 8th May 2021, as the Lake Dunstan Cycling and Walking Trail held its grand opening, starting at Clyde and moving to Cromwell Heritage Precinct, to welcome the first riders of the trail.

MP Jacqui Dean released the first randomly selected riders onto the trail at 10am.

These riders were accompanied by 10 further invited riders, and all wore specially commissioned tee shirts for the occasion.

Then it was the turn of the general public to ride over the red bridge and onto the trail.

Riders and spectators alike celebrated with food, wine and live entertainment at the Cromwell Heritage Precinct.

There was music, great food and drink, and for the kids face painting, fairy floss, hula hoops and clowns, including one on very high stilts.

“What a fantastic day!” says councillor Shirley Calvert, as she hands out gifts to people who check in to the free concert, adding, “It’s wonderful to finally be celebrating the opening.” 

Speeches were held at McNulty House, and Stephen Jeffery, Chair of the Central Otago Queenstown Trail Network Trust acknowledged the long but fruitful effort, saying, “The Trust is pleased to have delivered a great community asset.”

Ross McRobie, Otago Community Trust, spoke of the ongoing plan of a trail network ‘from the lakes to the sea’.

Speaking for the Central Lakes Trust, Malcolm MacPherson says, “When Paul Allison ‘dropped the idea on us’, it was not hard to get us excited.

It was harder to convince Wellington and Sir Eion Edgar helped with that.”

Deputising for the mayor, Neil Gillespie acknowledged ‘the hard, hard work’ of the volunteers.

Tim Dennis, Project Manager and Trail Designer, spoke of the innovation and quality involved in those contracted to actually complete the project.

The concept of the $7 million trail officially commenced on 31 May 2019.

The total length, from Smiths Way, through Cromwell to the Bannockburn Bridge and on to Clyde is 59 km, the Cromwell to Clyde section being 42km.

This section of the build provided many challenges, with some areas in fact being landlocked, and involving cliffs and sheer schist rock walls.

Innovative techniques included using a barge to move gravel and equipment from the main road access point across the lake to the building point, and at times needing helicopter assistance.

Traversing imposing rocky bluffs are seven unique bolt-on bridges, totalling 360m, and one elegant suspension bridge.

Saturdays opening brings to fruition a tripartite funding agreement between Central Government, Central Lakes Trust and Otago Community Trust.