A plan for cruise-ship passengers to disembark at the Dunedin
Railway Station has unsettled some central-city businesses.
The move has been proposed by Auckland company Renaissance
Tours, which is the largest provider of shuttle bus transport
for cruise-ship passengers in Dunedin.
The company believes the move would add to the experience
passengers have in Dunedin and ease traffic congestion when
cruise ships are visiting.
Renaissance's main Dunedin sub-contractor, Ritchies
Coachlines, is backing the move and has raised the ante by
suggesting the i-Site Visitor Centre be relocated to the
"It takes about an hour turnaround to take a coach from the
port to the Octagon. We could save 15 to 20 minutes if we
dropped them off at the railway station," Ritchies regional
manager Malcolm Budd said last night.
"It makes absolutely no difference, financially, to us at
all. It's purely about catering to the cruise-ship passengers
while they're in Dunedin. They're only here for a short time
and they want to do as much as they can."
Mr Budd has approached the Dunedin City Council about moving
the i-Site Visitor Centre to the station.
"The railway station is the ideal place for a visitor centre.
"It's an iconic building, with vacant space which is owned by
the DCC. Even the Taieri Gorge train would capitalise on it
"Everybody who comes to Dunedin visits the railway station.
It's the second-most photographed building in the southern
hemisphere," he said.
"I personally feel the city is missing out. The railway
station is the ideal opportunity."
Some Octagon retailers are angered by the proposal, saying it
would disadvantage central-city businesses.
"If they move all the cruise-ship passengers to the railway
station, how many are going to still come to the centre of
town?" Octagon business owner John MacDonald asked yesterday.
"A lot of the cruise-ship passengers are in wheelchairs and
walking frames and they're not going to make it up. For us to
even consider allowing a bus company to dictate to us is
naive. It [the present system] does work and it's worked for
10 years. The traffic still flows and nothing's closed off."
However, Mr Budd believed businesses should contribute if
they wanted to piggy-back off cruise-ship trade.
"It can cost around $20,000 to put on 30 or 35 coaches, which
the the big cruise ships need. Why should they pay for
shuttles into town to line the businesses' pockets?
"If the businesses want them [passengers] dropped off at
their door they should be contributing to the cost."
The Dunedin i-Site Visitor Centre is open every day of the
year and services more than two million visitors annually.
The DCC has previously considered relocating the visitor
centre to the railway station, but has been concerned at the
distance from the railway station to the central shopping
A report last year estimated it would cost at least $100,000
Tourism Dunedin has also highlighted the need to consider all
tourists to Dunedin and not focus only on cruise ships.
Mr Budd said he had filed a traffic management plan with the
DCC for coaches to drop passengers in the car park area north
of the Otago Farmers Market, which he hoped to have approved
by the time the Voyager of the Seas visited, on December 28