The Hamilton section of Te Awa cycle way underway
Dirt will start shifting this week for a cycle trail which could promote more tourism opportunities for the Waikato.
It's been 10 years in the making but the construction of the final section of the Te Awa cycleway will begin in Hamilton on Tuesday.
The middle section of the 70km river ride will go from the Hamilton Gardens across the Hillcrest gully system, through Tamahere and connect with the already completed Cambridge path.
The last piece of the jigsaw will result in a fully concreted path from Ngāruawāhia to Cambridge that walkers and cyclists can use.
Figures show that on a weekly average 939 people use the already constructed Ngāruawāhia section while 2292 use the section by Cambridge's Avantidome.
The Hamilton path will be predominantly off-road and will follow the banks of the Waikato River in places. It will also include bridges over stream gullies and boardwalks.
The NZ Transport Agency is contributing $7.9 million to the $20 million Hamilton section project.
Associate Transport Minister Julie Anne Genter along with Te Awa chairman Simon Perry turned the first sod at Tamahere on Monday morning.
"I think it's really exciting it's going to open up a whole new area for recreation but also people who are looking to travel around the local community either using on bicycle or foot in a way that is much safer and allows them to be separated from traffic.
"It's estimated the Cambridge to Hamilton shared path may be used by up to 225 walkers and cyclists each day," Genter said.
Construction of NZTA's contribution is expected to be completed within six months.
The rest of the trail is to be completed by Waikato District Council, Waipa District Council and Hamilton City Council in 2021.
Te Awa river ride chairman Simon Perry is glad to see the light at the end of the tunnel after a decade long journey.
"It creates opportunity for tourism, as you know the Otago Rail Trail and other cycling trails in New Zealand are massive for tourism and economic benefits, accommodation, food, and beverages and so we're hoping once we get this section through we can start promoting the trail to New Zealand and the world," Perry said.
He said the process which started as a three-year project has drawn out due to a few factors.
"Combination of funding and landowners and getting councils behind it.
"It started out thinking it was a $7 million project but deciding to make it concrete and making it accessible to everybody has meant it's quite a different thing making it a $25 to $30 million dollar project.
"So that takes a bit of time to raise the funds and get the landowners lined up to get through 70km is quite a big project."
For more information go to : Hamilton section of Te Awa cycle way underway