Outdoor recreation clubs aren’t happy at the prospect of $10 per vehicle to drive up The Remarkables road over summer.
The road’s owned by NZSki which announced on Tuesday it’ll introduce the toll from February 3.
New Zealand Alpine Club GM Karen Leacock says the toll will “hinder” families’ access to the area.
“For many, this may be their first adventure into the wild, which will hopefully lead to a lifelong love and connection for the outdoors.”
Federated Mountain Clubs president Jan Finlayson agrees.
“If you want to take your family to the Remarkables for a day’s exploring, picnicking, climbing, tramping, [it] is the way to go.”
She suggests NZSki should seek funds from the government’s international visitor levy.
But, NZSki boss Paul Anderson says it doesn’t qualify for levy funding.
The company’s invested more than $20 million in the 13km road – used by up to 200 cars a day in summer – and the toll will help with the high maintenance costs, he says.
“Currently, these costs are met only by winter visitors to the ski resort and a few commercial operators.”
The $10 fee will apply from December 16 to April 30 each year, but won’t apply to cyclists or anyone on foot, and won’t be in place during the ski season.
Anderson says 2019 ski pass holders, including school kids, will get two free access passes.
Department of Conservation Wakatipu ops manager Geoff Owen says NZSki’s got the right to charge a fee.
“The Remarkables Rd is not a legal road but a series of easements that first cross private land before reaching public conservation land.
“These easements provide NZSki with the ability to charge a fee for vehicle access.”
DoC doesn’t have the ability to “change previous decisions”.
“Our role is to agree whether the proposed fee can be considered reasonable.”
The road was built by the Mt Cook Group in the early 1980s, and a toll booth was in place well into the ’90s.
- MARK PRICE