The opening of the Spooners Tunnel is a significant and unique addition to the Great Taste Cycle Trail, local National MP’s Nick Smith and Maureen Pugh said today.
“Spooners Tunnel will be the longest cycle tunnel in the southern hemisphere and a great new feature of the Great Taste Cycleway. Cycling by torchlight for 1.4 kilometres through an historic tunnel just adds to the package of visitor attractions that make the Nelson and Tasman such a great tourism destination, Dr Smith said.
“This new 8.8 kilometre section of the Great Taste cycleway reinforces the potential of the Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key’s national cycleway vision. It would never have been affordable to construct a tunnel for cycles alone, but it is a great way to put life back into this historic railway tunnel. The network of cycleways of the Great Taste Trail, the Heaphy Track, Old Ghost Road and the West Coast Wilderness trail enable our region to claim to be the adventure biking capital of New Zealand between Nelson, Tasman and the West Coast,” Ms Pugh said.
Building of the tunnel began in 1873, when it was considered a crucial trail connection between Tapawera and its districts and the Nelson region. It was used by trains running between Nelson and Kawatiri until 1955 when the line was dismantled.
The Great Taste Trail is a 175km grade 1 to 3 (easy to intermediate) loop-ride around the Tasman region, starting in Nelson. The Great Taste Trail was awarded $2.3 million Government funding in October 2014. The section being opened on Sunday is 8.8 km, from Quail Valley Road to a forestry road near the south end of the tunnel.