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Equestrian Trail Tourism

Many countries have trail tourism as part of their tourism strategy.  In most cases, trails serve multiple purposes; providing recreation for locals (and those not so local), and providing a boost to regional economies by attracting visitors (both domestic and international). Walking, cycling and horse riding tourism are big business, and local recreation for all three groups is supported at local, regional and national levels.

Some countries are, of course, well ahead of us by virtue of their historic routes, and attitudes to public access.  The UK and Europe have a vast number of publicly accessible routes that enable people to stay fit, enjoy the countryside, perform pilgrimages, or enjoy active holidays and adventures.

By contrast New Zealand has been slow to recognise the value of trails.  We have had national parks for a long time (Tongariro National Park was established in 1880), and within these we have many world renown hiking trails.  But it was not until the 1990's that…
Recent posts

Public Access in New Zealand

RNZ National's recent Insight programme "Claims of public access privatised by stealth" , and the recent crowd funding effort to purchase a few hectares of private beach in Abel Tasman National Park have again highlighted the issue of public access in New Zealand.

I was invited to take part in the RNZ interviews, and it was a very interesting final piece. Many other individuals, and organisations also reflected my views, and concerns, while there was some disturbing apathy from authorities.

It was interesting to compare, and contrast this discussion, to the Abel Tasman campaign.

The RNZ Insight program, was only covered by the RNZ National radio station, and even within the piece the statement was made that “there seems little interest in changing public access” or words to that effect. However, just a couple of weeks later, and a 7ha piece of beach, already in private ownership gains massive media attention, and shows that the public is very much interested in public acces…

Top Stars lend their names for greater access

I've already written about the ongoing "I Ride" campaign, now I'd like to introduce, and explain the other side of the equation, "Top Stars".

This part of the campaign is to gain the support of our top sporting stars for recreational horse riding access.

When asking for access to trails, paths, or even parks we often get the response that horse riders have access to pony club grounds, or sports grounds.  The vast majority of riders neither compete, nor belong to Pony Club (which is, after all an under 21s youth training organisation).  For most of us who like to ride in the great outdoors, this is like being told to ride around your own paddocks forever.  To put it into context for non-riders, this is like all walkers, trampers, or cyclists being asked to walk, or bike, around the local rugby field, or your own backyard.

But "Top Stars" shows that even those at the very top levels of competition don't want to be stuck in competition arenas.  It i…

2015 - Another year of progress, wins, and some work in progress

I'm sure I've had a couple of tantrums during the year (I'm pretty sure I do every year).  It's a wonder I haven't permanently damaged by eye muscles from rolling them when I read yet another petty minded, ignorant ant-horse bylaw, rule or comment. The National cycleways project, is my number one target at the moment. Mostly because of the dangerous precedent being set when cycleways take over unformed legal roads, and kick everyone else off.  But also because regions, like the West Coast, complain about lack of tourists, or regional jobs, then allow the Cycleways to remove some of their potential client base (and only promote these expensive trails as 'cycleways').

But let's look back at our submissions; the successes, and the work in progress.
The beginning of the year was busy with Land Transport Plan submissions. Always quite likely to annoy, the responses range from surprisingly good (Northland), to officious, with the the usual downright bureaucrat…

Where is New Zealand's Equestrian Capital?

New Zealand isn’t a particularly equestrian friendly country. When I hosted my, now, good friend Alex Cadet, at the start her amazing journey on horseback, it took a lot of explaining, and a practical demonstration, to convince her that Europe, and New Zealand are not just miles apart physically, but also light years apart when it comes to public access. 
Oh sure, we love to put stunning photos of horses on beaches and in the high country in our tourism marketing materials.  Many Councils will show horse riders on their beaches, or kiddies on ponies, but peel back the pretty photo, and there’s not a lot going on to support these images.  

So is there an equestrian friendly New Zealand somewhere, and where would our equestrian capital be?  Is there a clever independent thinking town, city or region that recognises that they could carve a niche for themselves by being the equestrian capital – a unique identity amongst the current cycle wannabes.

Importantly, if there is, should we be …

I Ride

We're always encouraging people to speak up on behalf of recreational horse riding, and the equine sector in general.  But even with encouragement, it can be hard to take that first step.

So we've developed "I Ride", the campaign for everyone.  It's simple, it helps us to campaign on your behalf, and everyone can take part.

It's about showing who rides, why, and where - breaking the stereotypes.  It's about telling Council, and Government, and trails trusts that we are part of the community too.  And it's about saying we are ordinary kiwis, that want to enjoy the outdoors just like everyone else, not be stuck in a paddock riding around in circles.  Most of all it's about saying No.  No, we won't be silent, we won't be ignored, and we won't be thrown off trails, roads and out of parks.  I Ride, you walk or cycle; we all have wants, and desires for freedom, access to to nature, and active recreation.  We all can share, we all have equal st…

NZ Cycle Trail

Even international cycling bodies don't support single use trails, so why is the National Cycle Trail so set on them? 

When National, and John Key were desperately searching for ideas to rev up regional economies, some bright spark whispered "build some cycle trails" in his ear.  Rather than take the basic idea, and develop trails based projects that would best benefit the widest number of people, businesses, communities and regional economies, an initial $50 million of public money was dished out for a national cycle trails project.

The national cycle trail has been given tens of millions of dollars more from your taxes, and even more money has been dedicated by local Councils. I wouldn't mind this so much, if we were blessed with trails.  If equal, or even some, money were being spent on single use trails for others too.  I wouldn't even be quite so aggravated by this project, if they didn't take over trails, and land displacing others in the process, and the…