Fuming over full ferry

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Busy: A Queenstown Ferries boat in Queenstown Bay

A Queenstowner is appalled that a new ferry service left passengers stranded and is vowing not to use it again.

Mel Bohse says when the Queenstown Ferries boat pulled up at Kelvin Heights’ Bay View jetty earlier this month, on the way from Hilton Hotel to Queenstown Bay, there was only space left for four passengers.

The remaining six could catch the next boat in an hour, the driver told them.

Bohse did get onboard but felt bad for the three adults and three kids left behind.

“Children were crying and a local was crying because she was going to be late for work.”

Disembarking later, she asked if the boat could go back to pick up the others, but says she was abruptly told, “it’s not a taxi service, it’s a ferry service”.

“I thought it was an appalling way to speak to somebody.”

Bohse says she’s telling people not to rely on the service.

She suggests they should invest in a bigger boat or you should be able to book a place.

Wayfarer subsidiary Go Orange launched Queenstown Ferries on November 1.

Luke Taylor, Go Orange’s general manager, says two boats operate the ferry service continually and the others are on charter and water taxi work.

“It is not as simple as sending a boat back to pick up the remaining people on the wharf”, he says, although the company did this several times recently.

“We have endeavoured as much as we can to ensure that people are not left behind.”

He says there’s always a risk public transport will be full in peak season, including buses. But one solution is a dedicated Hilton boat in busy times, he says, and he apologises to Bohse for the “really unfortunate” incident.

He says the service needs support from Queenstown’s council and Otago Regional Council to be “fully robust and future-proofed” – with a more frequent service with lower prices and larger boats.