Queenstown's Skyline gondola's $60 million facelift
Queenstown's Skyline gondola will double in size once a proposed $60 million redevelopment goes ahead.
The development includes the replacement of its gondola and luge chairlift, as well as a major expansion of its upper complex and a brand new lower terminal building to accommodate the anticipated growth in visitor numbers over the next 30 years.
Skyline Enterprises plans lodging a resource consent application with the Queenstown Lakes District Council later this month and hopes to begin construction in March next year.
Chairman Mark Quickfall said the major project had been part of the long term plan for five years.
"With the lift in the numbers of tourists coming to Queenstown it became more of a short term plan and then an urgent plan."
Skyline Queenstown general manager Lyndon Thomas said the number of gondola users was projected to nearly double by 2030.
About 52 per cent of the people who come to Queenstown visit the facility - 787,000 for the last financial year. In 2031 that number was expected to be 1.51 million.
The proposed new 10-seat gondola is expected to take up to 3000 guests per hour.
The company plans to:
- Replace its existing four-seat gondola system with a 10-seat gondola
- Expand the capacity of its restaurant from 330 seats to 650
- Replace the existing two-seater chairlift that services the luge with a four-seat chair
- Expanded the panoramic viewing deck from 68m sq to 430m sq
- Build a conference facility which would almost double its capacity for conferences and events to cater for up to 770 delegates
- Increase staff from about 200 or 300 in peak season to 400.
Thomas said the conference facility could hold up to 800 people but was not intended to be in competition with facilities proposed by the Queenstown Lakes District Council or Remarkables Park.
Quickfall said the system sometimes reached its capacity of 1100 guests per hour.
The development would ensure it remained a "world-class" tourist attraction, he said.
"As well as accommodating higher visitor numbers, it will feature one of the most technologically-advanced gondola systems available, cutting down wait times at the base terminal and improving the overall guest experience."
It was on land leased from the council, with 51 years remaining on the lease, he said.
Architect Michael Wyatt is designing the new facilities. The new base terminal building, which housed the gondola cabins when they were not in use, would be two stories and designed as a sculptural machine hall with a transparent ground floor, he said.
The top facility would not appear different from town, only longer, he said.
"A lot of the increase in size is out of sight because it's over the crest of the hill."
The facility would close for eight to 12 weeks, likely in autumn 2018, for some of the construction.
Thomas said about 80 per cent of the construction would occur either side of the temporary closure.
Neighbouring businesses and affected parties were being consulted, he said.
The company will mark its 50th year of operation in 2017.
* Public information sessions will be held at the Skyline Queenstown complex on Wednesday, June 15 from 5-6pm and Thursday, June 16 from 10-11am. Locals wanting to attend should pre-register at skylinedevelopment.co.nz and provide proof of their address to get a free gondola ride there.