Taking the Hauraki Rail Trail from Good to Great

Partnerships are key

A good turnout of people from throughout the Matamata-Piako and neighbouring districts joined together in Matamata Tuesday night to hear about potential business opportunities associated with the Te Aroha to Matamata Hauraki Rail Trail extension. The strong message from Diane Drummond, General Manager of the Hauraki Rail Trail Charitable Trust was partnerships are key. She said ‘work together to provide more value to your business, make your business more attractive to a cycler, what can you offer them that makes you a point of difference'.  Currently 90,000 cyclers are riding the trail every year which is expected to grow to 130,000 annually.  “Working together we all benefit, we all grow,” she said.

Greg Marshall, who along with wife Linda owns Aroha Mountain Lodge and other boutique accommodation in Te Aroha, gave an insight to hosting guests. “There is a strong demand for weekend visitors, be they trail riders, bush walkers or those here to soak in the local mineral spa's and get out of the rat race for a weekend.” He said he had seen a dramatic rise in the amount of baby boomers using e-bikes and enjoying the trail and other local tourist attractions. Greg agreed that partnerships were key and he strongly recommended that any business would be foolish to not be an official partner with the Hauraki Rail Trust as this is a one stop website for those planning a cycling holiday. ”Get into it - its unique”, he said.

Michael Tansey runs the Paeroa Information Hub and is a platinum sponsor of the Trail Trust. He had the pleasure of proving the doubters wrong. Friends told Michael he was crazy putting his future into the 'cycle fad’. They have now come full circle and admire his enthusiasm and passion of the cycle trail which has turned into a successful business and lifestyle for he and his family. Once again Michael stressed it's all about partnerships and making sure clients are kept happy.  “The hard work is done, they're already here, ready to ride the trail. You don't have to sell that to them. Just make their holiday experience better, fulfil their needs, make them happy and they'll spend the money - seems so simple yet quite hard,” he said. “Don't let your imagination or own knowledge of the trail get in the way of what the trail can do. People are coming in their thousands to do what we just think is there.”  “Grab the opportunity and run with it, it’s exciting!” he said.

Jason Dawson, Chief Executive of Hamilton and Waikato Tourism capped the evening off with some statistics which may have been surprising to some. His presentation showed domestic tourism is our biggest market and we are in a unique position being within a three hour drive for two million people.  As much as there is a rivalry between us and our neighbours across the ditch, they are in fact, our number one international visitor. International cycling tourists tend to be most interested in adventure tourism activities during their stay in New Zealand, and tend to stay on average 33 days in comparison to 16 nights for an average visitor. Jason believed the cycle trail would be effective in town regeneration. He said New Zealand is a bucket list destination. We have the scenery, snow and water but lots of places in the world have that. It’s our people and culture, the way we host, our 'Kiwitanga' which make us the destination of choice for so many. “Our ordinary - that's their extraordinary,” he said.

Matamata-Piako Mayor Jan Barnes concluded the evening emphasizing this is an exciting time for Matamata-Piako; and the opportunities the trail extension offers are endless. 
“Build your partnerships, work together and think big. Together we can take the trail from good to great,” she said.