High-speed cat not linked to monorail

22:30, Feb 07 2013
QUICK CAT: A computer-generated image of the Southern Discoveries catamaran that will be cruising the waters of Lake Wakatipu by next summer.

Queenstown's latest multi-million dollar tourism investment, a sleek catamaran that will make trips to Mt Nicholas Station, is not linked to the proposed $200 million monorail link to Milford Sound.

The catamaran is the latest investment by bullish tourism player Southern Discoveries, which has invested heavily in their Milford Sound holdings, made inroads into Queenstown's tourism attractions, and are looking to strengthen their Queenstown holdings with the launch in the Spirit of Queenstown.

The custom-built, double-hulled 26 metre high-speed cat will be capable of carrying 150 passengers, and is due to launch the Queenstown-Mt Nicholas Station route by next summer.

The Milford monorail link proposal involves ferrying passengers by catamaran to Mt Nicholas Station where they will link with all-terrain vehicles to Kiwi Burn and then go by monorail to Te Anau Downs on the Milford road.

Monorail backers, Wanaka-based Riverstone Holdings, have touted the plan as a low-impact tourism pipeline that will reinvigorate flagging international visitor numbers to Milford Sound.

A decision to grant consent for the monorail and a tunnel in Fiordland was still a long way off, the Conservation Department said last year.

Southern Discoveries general manager John Robson said the Spirit of Queenstown was not linked to the monorail proposal, but the door could be open to an approach by Riverstone Holdings if the monorail came to fruition.

"We are doing this completely independently as part of a broader expansion strategy, and have not been approached by Riverstone Holdings," he said.

"The reason we have invested in The Spirit of Queenstown is to complement our Milford Sound operations, and expand on our Queenstown holdings. By having more products in Queenstown, when we meet inbound travel wholesalers, we are able to say you can do jetboating and the Mt Nicholas experience on Lake Wakatipu, then move on to do our Milford Sound experiences."


The Southland Times