From a shaky start to solid foundation
The story of The Whale Trail began dramatically at 12.02am on 14 November, 2016 when the magnitude 7.8 Kaikōura earthquake struck our regions.
This significant natural event destroyed infrastructure, homes and local economies along Kaikōura and Marlborough’s east coast.
Sections of State Highway 1 and the rail corridor were obliterated and communities left isolated.
It was immediately obvious that a rebuild would take years, and that some local industries would never recover.
Turning disaster into opportunity
In the days following the earthquake, Marlborough winemaker Dr John Forrest planted the seed of an idea: Let’s turn disaster into opportunity for us all and build on the defunct railway line “the world’s best cycling and walking trail... traversing some of the most beautiful seascapes and pastoral vistas in the world”.
From its inception, the idea of a trail saw a groundswell of public support including from those who lived in earthquake-affected communities and local body authorities.
In a challenging time when the world around them had changed forever, people could see a future for themselves in such a trail, through slow, sustainable economic restoration.
The Marlborough Kaikōura Trail Trust
The idea of a trail quickly brought together a group of like-minded people from across the top of the South Island and beyond, who could see a real future in this opportunity.
A working group was founded in January 2017 and the Marlborough Kaikōura Trail Trust was formed in November that year.