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Top score for the West Coast Wilderness Trail

Latest national rider survey results show that the West Coast Wilderness Trail continues to score amongst the top of the New Zealand Great Rides across all factors measured, including economic return.

Trail manager Jackie Gurden recently presented the data from the New Zealand Cycle Trails rider survey to the West Coast Wilderness Trail Sub-Committee.

The report provides the results for the West Coast Wilderness Trail benchmarked against the average for all 22 trails across the country. Benchmarks include the quality of the bike hire, guiding, shuttles, accommodation, services on the trail, the trail surface, signage, facilities and overall satisfaction. It also looks at the spend by riders while on the trail.

"The Wilderness trail scored above the average on all factors," says Jackie. "We are hearing from people that they are coming to ride the trail because of positive feedback from their friends and family. The scenery and quality of the trail continue to be key factors behind the success of the trail."

Of note, the survey findings revealed 85 per cent of the trail users surveyed- were visiting specifically to ride the trail. The majority of cyclists are on the trail for four days and on average spending more than $1200 each. This is more than 50 per cent more than the average for all trails over the 12-month period.

"It’s very heartening to see that in the last quarter, which is often quieter for businesses because of the beginning of winter, trail users were spending on average more than $1900 during their visit to the district."

Mayor Bruce Smith acknowledged the work being put into the trail.

"With Council staff and trail management working hard to reroute the trail and move people off the road in the Kaniere section, everyone who comes to use the trail is going to continue to get an improved experience. The reputation of the trail is bringing people to our district and they are spending their money at the fantastic businesses we have in the area. This proves the value of the trail.

"Without it, our economy might be hurting even more and our talented business people might have taken their skills elsewhere."

Other findings of the research are that the largest group of riders are over 60 years old and almost 45 per cent of riders are now on e-bikes. This has doubled since coming out of the initial COVID-19 lockdown a year ago. Auckland and Canterbury remain the main locations of origin for most riders.

"This independent research shows the trail is performing very well regionally and against other trails in the national network. This is clearly due to the all-round quality rider experience everyone is working so hard to achieve," says Jackie.

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