At the end of June, discussions were held with the community, Te Rūnanga o Makaawhio, Department of Conservation, Westland District Council and other stakeholders to gain insights into the potential trail journey, alignment, access and challenges.
TRC’s feasibility report proposes a trail that will link the scenic and cultural features of the region with the potential to become an iconic experience, attracting visitors to the region, creating a visitor economy that is more resilient to environmental and visitation changes, and which has the potential to create new opportunities for local businesses and communities.
Based on consultation with the local community, the proposed Ōkārito-Franz Josef-Fox Glacier trail includes a variety of walking and cycling itineraries.
TRC estimates the cost of the trail at $57.2m (including 20% contingency, excluding maintenance and operating costs).
It is projected that once fully established the trail would attract about 18,060 to 26,000 cyclists per year, and 10,710 to 12,700 walkers per year.
TRC estimates that the Glacier Country trail would support an average of 74 full-time jobs each year of the five-year construction phase, and would provide ongoing employment from additional visitor spending, expected to average about 140 full time jobs each year.
TRC projects visitor spend of $161.4m from the trail in the West Coast region over the 25 years modelled (about $6.5m each year).
However, the report states that over the 25-year time period modelled, total costs of the proposed trail would outweigh total benefits at both the regional and the national level.
“Whilst the economic assessment model might not show a net financial gain at the regional level, this should be balanced with the non-economic benefits,” TRC reported.
DWC economic development manager Jo Birnie said the report provides the foundation upon which potential partners can evaluate the feasibility of a proposed Glacier Country Trail and agree on further actions.
“We will be working with the partners and stakeholders to work through the outcomes of the study which are contained within the report.”