Opponents begin battle against Queenstown ferry

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Opposed residents have started their battle with a tourism giant proposing a passenger ferry across Lake Wakatipu. 

The ferry service, from Park Street to Kelvin Peninsula, is proposed to operate from 6am to either 10pm or midnight, depending on the season, and the proposal has divided public opinion.

Yesterday was day one of the resource consent hearing for the Narrows Ferry, scheduled to continue today and tomorrow before commissioners David Whitney and David Clarke.

Real Journeys Ltd, which operates TSS Earnslaw and over 30 other vessels, has applied for consent for the proposed two-ferry service and associated structures.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council recommends consent be refused for the proposal in its present form.

Real Journeys’ commercial director Antony McQuilkin told the commissioners the proposed ”Bumble Bee Ferry” would be electrically powered, ”virtually silent”, ”create very little wake” and ”is not radical, it is obvious”.

Conversely, the commissioners heard opposing views from some Park St residents.

Resident Philip Sanford, said the street was the last remaining lakeside area near the central business district with no commercial activity and ”it must remain this way”.

Furthermore, the size of the jetties and pontoons would have major effects on lake users, noise from people waiting for ferries, especially late at night, and rubbish, bottles in particular, would be a problem, Mr Sanford said.
The proposal includes a ferry terminal at Park St, which would consist of a jetty on the lake foreshore and lakebed, a floating breakwater and a passenger building; and a Kelvin Peninsula terminal would consist of a jetty on the lake foreshore and lakebed and a passenger building.

Mr McQuilkin said Real Journeys anticipates a trial ferry could be in operation ”for a period of up to two years in order to test the economic viability of the proposal” and the jetty structures would be put in place if the permanent ferry service was implemented.

The resource consent application generated 55 submissions in support, 51 in opposition and six neutral.

Mr McQuilkin said the proposed route from the Jubilee Park area of Park St to the western end of the Wakatipu Yacht Club site is about 320m and the total voyage time, including manoeuvring and docking, ”should be less than five minutes”.

The yacht club is scheduled to make a verbal submission in opposition to the proposal and in its written submission said the lake near the club could be congested at times and ”an unacceptable reduction in the level of safety” would result if the ferry was used the area.

Mr McQuilkin countered concerns from some submitters regarding noise pollution, saying a main concern appeared to be the possibility of noise from drunken passengers.

Sir Eion Edgar, as a patron of the Queenstown Trails Trust and a resident of Kelvin Heights, spoke in support of proposal.

The hearing is expected to continue today. – Otago Daily Times