Ambitious gondola plan wins plaudits


A $50 million gondola plan for Queenstown’s Remarkables mountain has won plaudits from its main competitor.

Mountain Scene exclusively revealed yesterday Porter Group’s proposal for from the Remarkables Park Town Centre in Frankton to the Remarkables skifield’s base building.

Skyline Enterprises chairman Mark Quickfall says the plan’s “ambitious” and deserves to be congratulated.

That was despite the prospect of competition for the gondola it has operated above Queenstown’s CBD for nearly 50 years.

“Competition is a reality, and if Skyline was afraid of it we wouldn’t be in business.”

Queenstown is in competition with the rest of the world and offering visitors more options is good for tourism in the area, he says.

But he warns the consenting process will be a challenge - and success isn’t guaranteed.

The gondola will start by the Porter Group’s proposed conference centre and run across and along the Kawarau River before heading up to the ski area.

The company expects to lodge a consent application with Queenstown’s council early next year.

Porter Group chairman Alastair Porter says the response since yesterday’s announcement had been overwhelmingly positive, and he revealed more details of the plan.

The gondola’s base station and the convention centre will be sited on a “gondola events plaza” that he expects to become the focus of hotel and retail development.

With hotel occupancy rates in central Queenstown running at more than 90 per cent, the new facilities will act as a catalyst for new hotels.

Porter Group is already in discussions with several operators.

The gondola will have a mid-station where visitors would have the option of getting off. Tourist activities will eventually be developed there, including a farm-visit operation.

Porter’s staff have held ”constructive” discussions about the plan with the Otago Regional Council, the Department of Conservation and Queenstown’s council in recent days, he says.

Queenstown mayor Vanessa van Uden could not be reached for comment.

Minister of Conservation Maggie Barry said in an emailed statement she can’t talk about the proposal because DoC hasn’t received an application for a concession.

DoC’s statutory boss for Central Otago John Roberts says he attended a briefing on the project with the developers this week.

He confirms the gondola will require a DoC concession because it extends up into the Rastus Burn Recreation Reserve.

He doesn’t have an opinion on the project’s merits.

“We just have to let the process run,” Roberts says.

Tourism New Zealand chief executive Kevin Bowler says the gondola can deliver significant benefits to the region.
The tourism industry is experiencing spectacular growth at the moment but there are constraints on how much growth the region can accommodate.

“We consider new investment a key part of the solution, so it’s exciting to see some lateral thinking and new ideas being brought to the table.”

Otago Daily Times