A Queenstown tourism company is being investigated over alleged breaches of its resource consent.
Ziptrek Ecotours takes customers on zipline ”eco-adventures” through the forest canopy on Bob’s Peak.
Queenstown council’s regulatory boss Lee Webster says the investigation will begin within the next two weeks and include options for enforcement.
The alleged breaches came to light during a four-day Environment Court hearing in Queenstown last week, on Skyline Enterprises Ltd’s direct referral for its $100 million-plus redevelopment.
Skyline lawyer Graeme Todd raised several issues with Ziptrek’s operation, which appeared to contravene its original resource consent.
Its consent stated it had to operate in accordance with the approved plans. Had Ziptrek complied, some of its concerns about Skyline’s proposal would be nullified.
Ziptrek lawyer Royden Somerville QC said earlier in the week the company, while not opposed to the Skyline proposal, had concerns with aspects of it.
Concerns included Skyline’s failure to underground a power line, which created a ”high” fire hazard and the potential impacts of construction noise on its clients, particularly during the critical safety briefing period for Ziptrek guests before they began their tour.
In his opening submissions, Somerville said Skyline’s proposed four-year construction period would have a ”significant adverse social and economic effect on Ziptrek’s business”.
”The construction site is adjacent to the Ziptrek eco-tourism operation and the access road to be used for transporting materials to the construction site is adjacent to the first zipline and the main entrance where clients are marshalled and safety briefings are given.”
On the final day of the hearing, Ziptrek boss Trent Yeo gave evidence, via Skype, from the United Kingdom.
Yeo said 95 per cent of the 30,000 guests his company hosted each year accessed the site using the gondola. The remainder walked up the ”Tiki Trail”, either from the bottom of the gondola or One Mile.
Those who came up on the gondola exited the terminal and went left, arriving at the top tree house, where they were briefed and then completed their tours.
The company offered two tours – a six-line option, taking guests from the top tree house to the bottom of the hill, and a four-line option which started at the tree house and at the end of the fourth line ”they walk back up again along that road … finish their tour and usually go down via Skyline”.
Yeo confirmed, when asked by Mr Todd, the company had not built the 120m trail and it gave safety briefings at the tree house, not near Skyline’s terminal.
He could not immediately point to any consent granting approval for guests or staff to use the access road.
With regard to the undergrounding of power lines, he believed an approved variation, relating to zipline 6, had removed that requirement.
Otago Daily Times