Ferry move would cut trip
Kaikoura Mayor Winston Gray is optimistic about the proposal to move the interisland ferry port from Picton to Clifford Bay.
Mr Gray said on Friday that while he would prefer to await details of the next report, due in May next year, the situation looked positive for Kaikoura.
"The idea has been mooted before, although this time it does look good," he said.
"One of the big positives for me is the Wellington market. People could leave Wellington after work and be down here while it's still daylight in the summer. It definitely puts us closer to that market, which can only be a good thing."
The road travel time from Kaikoura to Clifford Bay is about an hour, against nearly two hours to Picton.
One downside could be that it would be easier for visitors to come on only day-trips, although the accessibility to the Wellington market would still be beneficial, he said.
"It will just be up to us to show them what we've got and convince them to stay on longer [than one day] in Kaikoura."
While the immediate outlook was slightly less positive in Picton, Mr Gray predicted the move could end up being good all round. "I think it could also be good for Picton eventually, and long-term could turn it into a great destination."
Moving the port to Clifford Bay would cut out the ferry route from Tory Channel and through the Marlborough Sounds to Picton, which is longer and slower.
The new port would also open the possibility of using larger ferries on Cook Strait, reduce travel time between Wellington and Christchurch by 80 minutes for road traffic and 110 minutes for rail traffic, as well as reducing fuel costs for road and rail transportation, rail and ferry maintenance costs and carbon emissions.
The project is estimated to cost $422 million.
The proposal appears to be gathering official support, with Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee saying on Thursday the Government will appoint a specialist project team to do more work on the business case.<
The Marlborough Express