Splashing out

Wide berth for council: Queenstown's council completed the purchase of this Queenstown Bay wharf

Queenstown’s council has forked out millions for the Million Dollar Cruise wharf in Queenstown Bay.

It has bought the Butson/Lapsley wharf for an undisclosed sum – rumoured to be $3.8 million or $5m – “on the basis of its potential use in the future for part of a ferry network infrastructure”, comms advisor Campbell Weal says.

The purchase was settled on Wednesday.

The council, Otago Regional Council and NZ Transport Agency have been looking at a business case for a subsidised ferry service – similar to the subsidised $2 bus service – as another way of reducing traffic congestion on arterial roads.

Tenants of the wharf include the Million Dollar Cruise, Perky’s floating bar, Hydro Attack, UnReel Fishing Queenstown and KJet, plus a booking kiosk.

Million Dollar Cruise owner Wayne Perkins is surprised the council’s bought the wharf as Queenstown Ferries, which currently runs a non-subsidised lake ferry service, operates from the adjacent wharf.

Ideally, he thinks a public ferry service should operate from a custom-built wharf beyond Southern Discoveries’ refuelling jetty.

“They could have proper cover for people waiting to go on the ferries as well as bike stands and stuff like that for the ferry passengers,” Perkins says.

Having the service operate from the council’s newly-acquired wharf, or the adjacent one, just adds to existing congestion in the Earnslaw Park area, he suggests.

Perkins’ boat operates only on a yearly lease while the lease for Perky’s, which his family also owns, runs till 2037.

If the council uses Million Dollar Cruises’ outside berth, Perkins says he’d shift to the Perky’s site, “and Perky’s would just have to close unless we could find an alternative site”.

He says had he known the wharf was for sale, “we would have seriously looked at it ourselves”.