$100m gondola plan

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Lake Hayes Estate and Shotover Country kids could be catching a gondola to high school within three years.

Queenstown developer Alastair Porter tells Mountain Scene he plans to lodge resource consent for his highly-anticipated mega-gondola in the first half of 2020.

It could be operational sometime in 2021.

But Scene can also reveal the cost of the project has blown out to $100 million, double initial estimations.

Once considered just a way for snow bunnies to get from Remarkables Park to The Remarkables ski area, the ever-optimistic Porter now says the long-touted gondola will also serve as a commuter option.

“Remarkables Park has also planned a commuter gondola network within Remarkables Park Town Centre so that passengers can link to the ferry terminal (with ferry connections to Queenstown Bay) or ride to the Remarkables Park Convention Centre, hotel precinct or commercial recreation precinct,” he says.

When the gondola, expected to be the longest in Australasia at 10 kilometres, was first announced in 2015, its total cost was determined to be around $50m.
That’s jumped to $100m, due to the double-whammy of the New Zealand dollar weakening and the additional commuter capabilities, Porter says.

But it’s something of a silver lining for frustrated Lake Hayes Estate and Shotover commuters battling traffic gridlock.

A map of the proposed route shows a stop at Lake Hayes Estate, accessed from Wigeon Place, enabling people to catch the gondola to Remarkables Park.

It’d also give easier access to Queenstown Airport, Porter says. Queenstown’s council would need to support the proposal.

“But it does seem that both the council and the community want public transport solutions to the Shotover Bridge and SH6 congestion that is experienced on a daily basis.”

The ride time on a gondola between Lake Hayes Estate and Remarkables Park would be 12 minutes, with a 10-seater cabin arriving every 15 seconds.

Porter says other connections to places such as Jack’s Point and Hanley’s Farm are possible, but more public consultation is needed.

He’s less enthusiastic about a gondola via Queens-town Hill to the CBD.

“If we were involved, it would likely be done at the trail level to maximise connections with the trail and residential areas there.”

If consent is granted, construction’s expected to take about 18 months. Filing resource consent has taken longer than anticipated, in part due to the increasing popularity of gondolas as a mode of public transport worldwide, he says.

“There’s only two major gondola companies in the world, so they’re very busy.”

Commercial partners have already signalled interest in investing, but that’s still some way off, he says.

Porter and Queenstown mayor Jim Boult will discuss the project at a Lakes Hayes Estate and Shotover Country Community Association-hosted public meeting at Shotover Primary School this coming Monday night, starting at 7pm.

daisy.hudson@scene.co.nz