Trust Chairperson Report
Kate Wilson, OCRT Trust Chair shares the highlights of the past year...
Well 2017- 18 seems to have been busy. Perhaps in an unconventional sense - in that in many ways the Trustees have pulled back from our day to day management of some relationships and responding to enquiries and have delegated more to the wonderful administration team that the Trust employs.
On the other hand we have to an extent been more 'hands on' on the trail especially with work on Hyde Station. It was a great team effort with Ken driving the start one procurement process, DOC staff installing the toilet to our relief - literally - and Dave and Tania completing it. It was a tough job with winter conditions limiting progress.
During Labour weekend I had the pleasure of showing Bruce Shalders and Neville from Rail Heritage NZ the site - and they were very impressed and thrilled with the upgrade to their wagon.
I also had the privilege of attending the NZCT AGM and am delighted to report that the Trail and the Trusts relationship and regard throughout NZ is still very high. It was humbling but with great pleasure that Geoff Gabites compared the Otago Central Rail Trail with his Korean tour - and that is a credit to operators as well as the trail managers DOC and the work of the Trust.
While the trail numbers are constant, the trail season seems to be spreading wider and longer where businesses are open. Certainly having a longer season for people unfamiliar with the trail is limited by the vacuums created by businesses closing. I think if there was an area that we should consider putting more effort is getting operators to ensure their our options that make those breaks doable in all seasons in a comfortable and certain way.
Also ongoing has been the development of the Interpretation Plan and I am delighted to see that going through to the next stage for development thanks to another MBIE grant. Another step in us ensuring that the Trail remains a great experience.
Ongoing financial models are the biggest issue and the least certain for most trails. And I do not think our trail is an exception. With other neighbouring trails developing I think we need to explore Otago wide marketing in a collaborative rather than competitive manner - NZ is a small country and to be heard we need to work together to be successful. However we do also need to ensure we have a distinct product.
I would like to thank Mike Tubbs, Trudy Anderson and all the DOC staff for their ongoing work on the Trail. The design of the sun is coming to an exciting stage and we look forward to meeting to discuss that - but also share our sympathy with all the DOC staff over their recent losses.
I would like to thank Clare and Tania for keeping the Rail Trail Trust going this year despite my other over commitments - I have had to cut back on my work and have really appreciated being able to rely on the support they provide.
Lastly I would like to thank my fellow Trustees - Sam, Ken and Colleen, advisory Trustee Daphne and our Patron John Gibson. Again thank you for your contributions when I have been overcommitted and attending meetings when I cannot. We are all individually very busy and your significant voluntary contributions are much appreciated.
We have a busy year ahead with new interpretation, landscaping at Oturehua and Hyde, a sun in Ranfurly and I think a need for more one on one contact with operators. I am keen for us to develop a Trail Pack for new operators, a system to feedback on opportunities on the trail and to look at more frequent stakeholder engagement. With more trails being developed inland and on the coast, things cycling are getting very exciting. How they are portrayed and messaged will be even more important than ever.
Thank you for the pleasure of chairing the Trust and working with you all.
OCRT Chairperson (2017/2018)