Cyclists and walkers will again be able to use one of the most popular sections of Te Pou Herenga Tai – Twin Coast Cycle Trail this summer following an agreement between Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust and the council to reopen a section of the trail between Te Ake Ake and Ōpua.
The agreement comes after a section of the trail between Taumarere (Long Bridge) and Te Ake Ake was closed more than a year ago to enable Bay of Islands Vintage Railway Trust (BOIVRT) to reinstate railway lines beneath the trail. The trust’s goal is to further extend vintage train rides it offers on the historic rail corridor linking Kawakawa to Ōpua. The reinstatement work was made possible by a $5.59 million cash injection provided in 2020 by the Government’s COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund.
Most of the 87km Te Pou Herenga Tai – Twin Coast Cycle Trail is built on disused railway corridor leased from KiwiRail by Far North District Council. However, the corridor between Kawakawa and Ōpua is leased from KiwiRail by BOIVRT. It in turn sublet the Ōpua to Taumarere section to the council to use for the cycle trail. This section runs alongside the Kawakawa River and is very popular due to its picturesque location and proximity to other Bay of Islands tourism destinations. Under the sub-lease agreement, it was understood that the rail corridor would return to BOIVRT control once the trust was ready to extend its rail operations.
To ensure that visitors and locals can make the most of the cycle trail this summer, BOIVRT has agreed to release the rail corridor between Ōpua and Te Ake Ake so that the cycle trail can reopened. Cyclists and walkers will be able to continue their journey between Te Ake Ake and Taumarere by catching a BOIVRT train for the price of a gold coin donation. Train timetables will be available on the Twin Coast Cycle Trail’s Facebook page.
Work to reinstate the cycleway between Ōpua and Te Ake Ake include removing weeds and other obstacles and upgrading a train tunnel overpass. This is due to be completed in time for the summer train timetable starting on Boxing Day 26 December 2022.
The council will soon begin negotiations with KiwiRail on a long-term lease for part of the Ōpua to Taumarere rail corridor. This will allow it to begin work on a permanent cycle trail to run alongside the reinstated railway. Council engineers are working closely with the trust and Te Keteriki Limited (a company formed to oversee a range of local tourism projects) to confirm the best route for the new trail. The council has allocated $13.2 million to the project.
Meanwhile, the council will continue building a temporary cycle trail between Ōpua and Kawakawa via Oromāhoe and Whangae Roads. While this route will be more suited to experienced riders, the council believes the alternative route will provide much needed relief for cycle trail businesses struggling to recover from COVID-19 restrictions and closure of a section of the trail between Ōpua and Kawakawa. The opening date of the alternate road route is yet to be confirmed.
The council and the Pou Herenga Tai Twin Coast Cycle Trail Charitable Trust thank BOIVRT and Te Keteriki Limited for their support in re-establishing a connection for cyclists and walkers between Ōpua and Kawakawa, and for making provision for a permanent cycle trail to run alongside the train on this section.