The Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency will add the new Central Otago Touring Route to its drive tourism map.

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The Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency will add the new Central Otago Touring Route to its drive tourism map.

A nationally-recognised 336-kilometre “road trip” through Central Otago will make it easier for Kiwis explore their own backyard.

The Waka Kotahi NZ Transport Agency has approved a Central Otago Touring Route through Central Otago when travelling from Dunedin to Queenstown or vice versa. The route goes via Middlemarch, Ranfurly, Alexandra, Clyde and Arrowtown.

Tourism Central Otago general manager Dylan Rushbrook said the route would be added to the drive tourism map, linking with other nationally recognised touring routes.

Tourism agencies and local councils had been working on the project for 16 months, he said.

The work included securing funding for two new electric vehicle charging stations, marketing, creating interpretation panels to tell the “key stories along the route” and developing lay-bys.

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Central Otago District Mayor Tim Cadogan says the touring route will ensure the benefits of tourism are spread throughout Otago.

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Central Otago District Mayor Tim Cadogan says the touring route will ensure the benefits of tourism are spread throughout Otago.

Central Otago mayor Tim Cadogan said the new route would encourage visitors to explore more of the district.

“It’s a road trip that will appeal to people who don’t just drive to get from A to B, but who want to experience a unique part of the world with beauty on all sides and a wide open road in front of them.”

Queenstown Lakes mayor Jim Boult said his council was delighted to be part of the new route.

Queenstown Lakes District mayor Jim Boult says the touring route makes it easy for Kiwis to "get out and about in the most beautiful part of the country".

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Queenstown Lakes District mayor Jim Boult says the touring route makes it easy for Kiwis to “get out and about in the most beautiful part of the country”.

“Many of our visitors at the present time are New Zealanders getting out and exploring their own backyard.

“The development of a new touring route in our region is a timely addition to our offering.”

Dunedin mayor Aaron Hawkins said the project was a great example of Otago councils and tourism organisations working together.

“The rich history and outstanding landscapes along this route are an important part of who we are.”

The route will be officially launched later this year.