It's still happening: Otago Regional Council's confirmed a subsidised ferry service on Lake Whakatipu will still happen, but has been delayed

Kelvin Peninsula Community Association’s launched a petition urging Otago Regional Council (ORC) to support Queenstown’s soon-to-be-scuppered ferry service.

Ferry operator Go Orange last month announced the service – aside from water taxis to the Hilton – would end February 20.

Despite good patronage, it couldn’t continue without the sort of public subsidy the $2 bus gets.

The company said Queenstown’s council and NZ Transport Agency indicated they’d support it if ORC did, but “ORC just won’t engage”.

In response, ORC said it will consider a public ferry service business case next month.

Kelvin Peninsula Community Association (KPCA) chair David Mayhew says “there’s been quite a bit of dismay at the idea of [the service] not continuing after February”.

He notes KPCA’s argued from the get-go the ferry service should attract a subsidy “similar to what they do with the bus ideally a $2 fare”.

“We’d hope that the ORC will see its way to funding that, alongside Queenstown’s council and NZTA.”

He adds they’re putting a lot of faith in new local-based regional councillor, ex-district councillor Alexa Forbes.

Kelvin Heights resident Sir Eion Edgar says he uses the ferry two or three times a week, “and I know if it was more frequent, greater numbers would use it”.

“With the whole aim of council, and obviously NZTA and, you would hope, the ORC, to reduce traffic on the roads, this excellent water ferry service is the answer.”

Edgar’s unhappy that ORC’s yet to come to the party: “They’re in a very strong financial position, they’re responsible for transport and for waterways, so it meets both their criteria.”

Asked about ORC’s position, Forbes says: “I would hate to see the ferry service stop, I think it’s an integral part of our aspirations to get people off the roads, and it’s a really beautiful way to travel.

“There’s a few things to work through and, as you know, ORC is not very quick at working things through.”

Aside from ORC considering the business case next month, Forbes notes that Kawarau Jet has a resource consent in to run a similar service.

She says she can’t prefer one operator over the other, “although I do acknowledge the work that Go Orange has done to get this up and running”.

“I’d love to see the ferry service keep running, but I don’t know if I’m able to make that happen, or not. We need to hear from the Queenstown community how much they value this service, I think that’s key.”

Link to KPCA’s petition ‘Keep the Wakatipu Ferry on the Water’: