Fast-track consent lodged for new Coronet Peak gondola

An application to fast-track a gondola on Coronet Peak has been submitted to the government.

Local-based tech entrepreneur Rod Drury, who’s spearheading the project, says a big driver is Queenstown’s plan to become the world’s first carbon-zero tourist destination by 2030.

‘‘The big thing is, how do we get those cars off the road?’’

He sees it as not only an alternative option for skiers/snowboarders accessing Coronet Peak skifield but also as a way for mountain bikers to reach the increasing number of trails — which he’s had some involvement with through the Queenstown Mountain Biking Club.

Due to those dual uses, ‘‘the business case for it looks quite good’’.

The gondola would come off the end of Coronet Peak Station Rd, off Malaghans Rd.

We have lift-off: A view of the proposed gondol’s base building and surrounding parking area and roading

Potentially there’d be a new loop road to the base station, where there’d be a carpark and bus drop-off, and the existing Coronet Peak Station Rd would be the outbound lane, Drury says.

He suggests there could also be ‘‘some environmentally-sensitive way’’ of putting in a bike hub to encourage more investment in the bike industry.

Drury says he’s had good interest from the Cleary family who own Coronet Peak Station.

It’s understood the fast-track application also includes a village with some housing, with details to be released later.

‘It’s not something we want to ram through’

Drury says he’s aware there’s ‘‘a lot of nervousness’’ about the government’s Fast-track Approvals Bill ‘‘trampling over the environment’’.

‘‘A really big thing for us was to make sure we work in closely with Ngāi Tahu and make sure it’s conservation-led.’’

He sees the gondola tying in with the huge project, begun two years ago, to recloak the face below the skifield in native trees.

He’s also behind plans for a mountain bike park on the nearby former Coronet Forest hillside, which is also being replanted in natives.

Drury says he saw the fast-track legislation — aimed at speeding up approvals for infrastructure and development projects of regional
or national significance — as ‘‘a good catalyst to get everyone involved and see what could happen there’’.

‘‘We’ve had great support from [skifield operator] NZSki, the landowners and people involved, it’s been a really good collaboration with a group of people including Ngāi Tahu.

Visionary: Queenstown tech entrepreneur Rod Drury

‘‘I think we’ve put in a really good fast-track consent [application], and I’m really interested to hear people’s thoughts on it.

‘‘It’s not something we want to ram through, we just thought everything was lining up, and we’ll see where it lands.’’

This gondola plan isn’t the first mooted for a local skifield.

In 2015, Porter Group Ltd announced plans for a $50 million gondola from Remarkables Park to The Remarkables, but so far it’s not come off the drawing board.

Drury thinks his Coronet Peak version is ‘‘probably an easier one to get away economically because of all the work we’ve done on trails there’’.

Meanwhile, NZSki chief executive Paul Anderson says they’re doing everything they can to support the Coronet gondola proposal — ‘‘I think it’s fantastic, that vision’’.

‘‘The [mountain bike] riding up at Coronet Peak’s world-class, to be able to access it from a gondola at the bottom of the mountain, it would be an absolute mecca for mountain bikers to come and ride there.’’

Jana Davis, CEO of the iwi-led environmental initiative, Te Tapu o Tāne, says the project would help build on existing wetlands at the base of Coronet Peak, which flow into Mill Creek and are part of the Lake Hayes catchment.

‘‘The project will I guess help expand riparian margins quite considerably.’’

Davis also thinks the gondola could just be the first step to reducing traffic congestion.

‘‘Is it much of a stretch to say you couldn’t have a gondola going from the airport to Coronet Peak or from Coronet Peak into Queenstown?’’

[email protected]

- Advertisement -