A new era for Queenstown’s most popular tourist attraction dawns tomorrow, at 9am, when Skyline’s new gondola will be officially opened, taking passengers up and down Bob’s Peak.
Thirty-six 10-seaters replace the four-seaters, which last plied the route on April 22 after 36 years’ service.
They’re the centrepiece of a $250 million redevelopment which has included, to date, 10 new towers, a new cableway and new bottom and top gondola terminals, and tree-felling on the hillside.
Skyline construction project boss Paul Embleton-Muir says he’s delighted that, due to the ‘‘massive efforts’’ of construction crew who have latterly worked around the clock, they’re reopening a day ahead of schedule, ‘‘which is somewhat unprecedented at the moment’’.
‘‘We’ve got [Doppelmayr staff] over from Austria commissioning it, we’ve got people in Austria wired in, just checking it all.’’
Testing has included running the cableway with wheelie bins filled with water in the cabins.
Embleton-Muir says people will be amazed at how smooth the cabins are to ride — ‘‘it’s like going from a clapped-out Toyota to a nice Mercedes, it’s really something’’.
Capacity is increasing from 1000 people an hour to 3000 in both directions.
Work will now start on a new top restaurant/terminal building which will be built over two stages, while a 400-space carpark, by the bottom terminal, will be complete by the end of next March.