Adventurer and mountaineer Mark Inglis has come on board to help plan and promote the Hurunui Heartland Cycle Tour.
The proposed tour will take riders from Amberley through to Kaikoura through a less used, scenic route, which avoids State Highway 1 and 7 as much as possible.
Mr Inglis has been appointed as the coordinator for the tour.
The project received funding from the Lottery Hurunui Kaikoura Marlborough Earthquake Relief Fund for Mr Inglis’ position to install signage and market the cycle route to local and visiting cycle enthusiasts.
Mr Inglis, a Hanmer Springs resident, was the first double amputee to reach the summit of Mt Everest in 2006.
He lost his legs to frostbite after being trapped in a snow cave on Mt Cook for 14 days with his climbing partner Phil Doole in 1982.
He returned to Mt Cook in 2002 and reached the summit with his custom-designed prosthetic legs. He later competed at the Paralympic Games in cycling.
Mr Inglis said he was passionate about what the district had to offer, and the route would be an asset, following the November earthquake.
“Living in Hurunui I am privileged to wake up to unique and beautiful mountainous scenery – this scenery is one of the New Zealand’s best kept secrets and I would love for visitors to experience what we locals experience daily,” he said.
Mr Inglis will work with the umbrella organisation of the proposed tour, the Hurunui Trails Trust along with New Zealand Cycle Trails, the district council and the community to meet the legal and safety requirements, design, develop and install signage along the route, and begin marketing Hurunui as a tour biking destination.
He will also engage local communities to be part of setting up the cycle route, creating local ownership of the project.
Richard McCubbin, a keen cycle tourist and a trustee of the Hurunui Trails Trust, first proposed the route.
He said having Mr Inglis on board meant the project could move along at a faster, more coordinated approach.
“We are so pleased to have Mark in the coordination position and have begun working with him to promote and encourage use of this cycle tour gem with locals and visitor,” Dr McCubbin said.
Mayor Winton Dalley said it would be a great benefit having Mr Inglis take the lead with his local expertise and well-respected reputation.
He said Mr Inglis was well-known locally and internationally, and was a great advocate to have on board.
“I’m looking forward to working with Mark, a man with drive and inspiration, and the Hurunui Trails Trust to get the route up and running for the benefit of our district.”