A local tourism operator’s cheeky monopoly reign of a lone free parking space in Queenstown’s CBD could soon be over.
Off Road Adventures legally hogs a solitary prime space on Shotover Street all day every day for its colourful signwritten vehicles.
Staff rotate a truck, classic ute and van for publicity purposes on the unrestricted free park. The company coordinates the occupation of the spot by ensuring a vehicle is ready to drive onto it as the existing one leaves.
Queenstown Lakes District Council transport boss Denis Mander says what Off Road does isn’t illegal – but he’s investigating and time may be up.
“We’re aware that the size of [the Off Road truck] does cause a few issues in terms of people exiting from the driveway just beyond so one of the things we’re looking at is removing that park,” he says.
Mander adds the council has fielded complaints from its own staff and from Thrifty Car Rental workers – who all access the driveway immediately past Off Road’s personal parking space.
One Thrifty worker tells Mountain Scene Off Road refuses to move its vehicles when asked.
“There are major safety issues when their big truck parks outside our office,” she says.
“We’ve had to go on to the road to stop traffic just so people coming out of the driveway next door don’t get collected when they come out – they can’t see past the truck.”
Off Road doesn’t have a permit to occupy the park, Mander says.
“They used to park up the top of Stanley Street but the NZ Transport Agency put some broken yellow lines in there so that shifted them down the road,” he says.
“They can park there for quite a length of time and to prevent it from becoming an abandoned vehicle [in local body law] what they’re doing is rotating the vehicles.
“They have a different one there overnight,” Mander says.
Mander says his staff will recommend to a council committee meeting in February that the parking space be removed.
Off Road Adventures is owned and run by Denis Columb and his family, including son and international motocross rider Scott Columb.
Denis Columb didn’t return calls, but Off Road manager Gunthar Rowe says the only time Thrifty asked Off Road to move their vehicle was when they wanted to take photos of their shop.
“We said, ‘Yeah, we’ll go and [shift the vehicle]’. From memory they were talking to Scott. Scott ended up going out on a trip and came back at the end of the day and thought, ‘Oh, that’s right, I was supposed to do that’.
“I think [Thrifty] got in a bit of a huff over that. That was the only time we’ve ever been asked to move it,” Rowe says.
Denis’ son Lachie Columb told Mountain Scene on Wednesday that Denis would be away till Monday on a tour but the company would have a comment to make if called at 5pm on Wednesday.
Despite repeated attempts at 5pm, later that night and yesterday morning, Lachie failed to answer the phone or
respond to messages by deadline.