Ferry proposal changes fail to please dissenters

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Changes to a controversial proposal for a Queenstown ferry service won’t satisfy a high-profile critic.

Back in June, local tourism giant Real Journeys floated plans for a Narrows Ferry for passengers and cyclists to cross Lake Wakatipu from Park Street, near downtown Queenstown, to Kelvin Peninsula.

After a flood of objections to the consent application, particularly from property owners in and around Park St, the company has proposed amendments.

In particular, Real Journeys is trying to reduce visual effects of its proposed Park St jetty. The jetty shifts 21.5m to the east and the shelter structure is relocated so willow trees don’t have to be removed.

The Park St and Kelvin Peninsula jetties would also only be lit at night when people are on them.

Prominent local businessman Sir John Davies, who lives nearby, is unaware of the proposed amendments, but says “as long as [the jetty’s] down there, there’s going to be an argument”. 

The entire neighbourhood is concerned, he claims.

“It’s traffic and people and noise. It’s the noise from rowdy people coming off the ferry at 1am or 11pm or going on the ferry, yahooing.”

Real Journeys commercial director Tony McQuilkin says the amendments address feedback from the submission process and consultation with various community organisations.

“The amendments include further steps to minimise the visual impact of the Park St jetty and the proposed wavebreak.”

McQuilkin says he expects more feedback when independent commissioners hold a hearing from October 23-25.

“At this time we’ll also be discussing parking options,” McQuilkin says.

Real Journeys intends relocating its Kelvin Pensinula jetty six metres further away from the Wakatipu Yacht Club’s western jetty.

Despite relocating the jetties, McQuilkin expects the 10.5m electric catamaran – dubbed ‘Bumblebee’ due to yellow and black stripes – will take about five minutes to cross the 320m Narrows.

The boat can take 30 passengers or 16 with cycles and is designed to link the Frankton and Kelvin Heights walking/cycling tracks and make it easy to cross between Queenstown and Kelvin Peninsula.

“Trip costs are yet to be determined but the intention is to make it very affordable to encourage patronage,” McQuilkin says.

The company’s proposed level of investment is confidential, he adds.