A former councillor is a skip ahead of Queenstown Lakes District Council on Skippers Road.
Last Monday, QLDC announced the historic trail would be closed “for urgent repairs” – “it’s now a safety issue,” council roading boss Ian Marshall said.
Next day, ex-councillor Jerry Hohneck’s Skippers Canyon Jet and 4WD Adventures announced “a special access arrangement with QLDC” ensuring trips operate “as normal”.
Yesterday, Marshall said the special-access claim is “incorrect” – “the wording over-exaggerates the situation”.
“There’s no dispensation [on] vehicles using the road,” Marshall said, “but we’ve been working with [Hohneck] to see how we can accommodate people walking through the [roadworks] at defined times.”
One vehicle would drop Hohneck’s punters off at one end of the roadworks to walk across to a second vehicle on the other side – but “the detail of that hasn’t even been resolved yet”.
Hohneck’s punters would have to adhere to the roading contractor’s health and safety plan – “they might have to have hard hats”, Marshall says.
If other tourism operators could show hardship from the road closure, Marshall would look at granting them walk-through access too.
Permission notwithstanding, hard hats or not, Skippers Canyon Jet and 4WD Adventures had punters traversing the roadworks yesterday, according to Matt Rhodes, Hohneck’s marketing manager.
Rhodes knew nothing about perhaps having to provide hard hats.
Other Skippers operators might be hard-pushed to get walk-through access, he said, because they wouldn’t already have a vehicle on the other side of the closed road like his firm.