Long time coming: The Coastguard Queenstown Marine Rescue Centre, 11 years in the planning, is finally ready to be officially opened


It’s taken 11 years and a few battles, but Coastguard Queenstown is finally ready to open its new base.

The official opening for the Coastguard Queenstown Marine Rescue Centre’s planned for tonight — organisers were busy last week coming up with contingency plans to ensure it could go ahead regardless of Alert Levels.

Work finally started on the $400,000 base for Coastguard in November, 2018, following an
eight-year battle for funding.

The purpose-built facility at Sugar Lane’s Frankton Marina’s a step up from its former home, a storage shed at the marina.

While Coastguard was granted consent in 2012 to lease a vacant neighbouring site for the build, it had to be downsized after years of struggling to hit fundraising targets.

Money also had to be found to cover the additional costs of excavation to dig down to lake level and replace dodgy soil to form a solid base for the build.

While, initially, the build project was only expected to take a couple of months, and be finished in February, 2019, Coastguard Queenstown president Phil Wiel says it was finally finished around the end of 2019, and delays in getting the building signed off were further exacerbated by Covid.

‘‘We didn’t get consent till half-way through the year, hence, we couldn’t open.

‘‘It’s been a wee bit of a problem getting that consent, especially with Covid [but] these things take time.’’

Wiel says the completed new base comprises an office, a large training room and a crew room.

‘‘The proposal is that we can use that as an operational base for search and rescue and things like that.

‘‘In the future we expect Coastguard education to be using it, or even get ourselves sorted
for that.’’

Coastguard’s just taken on another six new vollies who are going through training at the moment to become operational.

In total there are about 20 volunteers involved, from a range of backgrounds, and prior
experience in Coastguard’s not a requirement, he says.

‘‘We’ve got a draughtie, we’ve got business owners, I was operations manager for Nomad
Safaris, Covid’s put a bit of a damper on that, I was driving a logging truck but … I’m now driving a dump truck out at Coneburn.

‘‘It’s good to train people right from the start so we can teach people the right way, no
bad habits.’’

At this stage, the building will officially be opened on Monday night.