Ferry plan refloated

An artist’s impression of the kiboshed Park St jetty.
An artist’s impression of the kiboshed Park St jetty.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has put its oar in and could revive hopes of a ferry across Lake Wakatipu to Kelvin Heights.

Last year, council received more than 80 submissions for Real Journeys' resource consent bid to run an electric ferry across the Narrows from Park St to the peninsula near the existing wharf. But commissioners put a stop to the plan and rejected the resource consent bid, ruling its effects could be detrimental.

Now, it seems the council wants to investigate the possibility of a resource consent for a ferry operated by a third party.

A council spokeswoman said "facilitating a resource consent" was in the 2014/15 work plan.

No consent application had been lodged and if the plan progressed it would be presented to council and include consultation if there was any formal proposal.

Real Journeys chief executive Richard Lauder said it was unlikely the firm would resurrect its plan.

"It'd be bloody good for Queenstown to have that connection. Whether Real Journeys would be interested, I suspect not."

Wakatipu Yacht Club spokesman Mike Hansen said the club opposed Real Journeys because the peninsula wharf was in the middle of the club's wharf. The club was not opposed to a ferry service.

"Let's just see what happens I guess [with the council]. I had to agree with the Park St residents. I was aware of the rumour there was another proposal. We're not opposed to the idea but where they proposed to put the terminal made it difficult."

Real Journeys wanted small electric ferries carrying 30 passengers, or 16 with cycles, across 390 metre gap between jetties at Park St and the end of Kelvin Heights peninsula. Submissions included strongly held views on both sides of Lake Wakatipu with the majority of support coming from Kelvin Heights and strong opposition from Park St and nearby residents.

Commercial operators KJet and Southern Discoveries weighed in alongside Park St area residents singling out potential disruption to a quiet residential area, also the navigational and logistical requirements of vessels crossing paths on the lake.

Queenstown Trails Trust chief executive Mandy Kennedy said the potential connectivity in "closing the loop" between Queenstown and Kelvin Heights was fantastic. "If it were to come to pass what a great opportunity for people to connect. The connectivity from the peninsula into town would be fantastic."

Those against the original idea included Sir John Davies and holiday home owners in Park St and Veint Cres.

On the pro-ferry side were Sir Eion Edgar, restaurateur Josh Emett, Kelvin Heights residents and proponents of cycling tourism.

The Mirror