Cable car back in 2018?

Phil Cole
Phil Cole
The High St cablecar could be resurrected within five years, as the trust behind the project prepares to start a major fundraising drive this year.

The original High St to Mornington line opened in 1883 and closed in March 1957, but the Dunedin Cable Car Trust hopes to have a cable car back on the route by 2018.

Chairman Phil Cole said the estimated $22 million project would be broken down into three phases, beginning with the construction of a $2 million terminus near Mornington Park.

The Mornington terminus would include a cafe, museum and storage area for the cable car, and could be completed by 2015.

''We want to build this first to generate income for the project''.

He said the completion of the terminus would help provide impetus for the project before the start of phase two - raising funds and installing the track and building the cable cars.

The 3.2km of track - 1.6km each way- would require the installation of a box to house the cables and pulley system, with drainage required to remove any water.

It was hoped work could be completed by 2017 - funds permitting - allowing the cablecars to be fully operational a year later.

Mr Cole stressed the trust was not looking for financial support from the Dunedin City Council, but was keeping the council updated on the project.

''They are waiting for us to have a big fundraising push.''

That fundraising drive was likely to go ahead in the latter half of this year, and could feature a visit by the redeveloped Mornington trailer 111, courtesy of the Ferrymead Heritage Park in Christchurch.

''Money would have to come from donations initially, because it can't be run as a business until you get upfront donations to get the thing built and after that is when you make it run at a profit.''

The planned third phase would include improvements to High St, such as tram stops, Mr Cole said.

The trust had already been receiving donations, including $500 from a person in Wanaka, and the project had generated plenty of excitement across the country, he said.

A business plan was being developed by a company which had donated time to the cause, and was expected to be completed by the end of the year. Mr Cole said the not-for-profit community organisation would return profits to the community; with sponsoring apprenticeships just one suggestion.

The original idea was to have the cable cars manufactured at Hillside, and '' we may still do that, but quite possibly we might look at Ferrymead''.

''We want to try and have everything built in Dunedin. Obviously, if you build it locally people are more inclined to support you.''

Mr Cole said the project would act as a catalyst for the Exchange and Mornington area, and would complement the council's plan to rejuvenate the historic warehouse precinct, which mentioned the return of trams to city streets.

An estimated three cars could travel on the route at any one time, with a car and trailer able to carry up to 100 people.

He said patronage was likely to be mainly locals rather than tourists, ''but at the end of the day no-one knows until you build the bloody thing''.

Good things take time

I was helping when Don Myers and Bill Cambell started the ball rolling back in 1993. We had good meetings with the Mayors of the day I even tried to find help in the USA when I was over there, but we just couldn't strike the right note. Maybe it was an idea whose time had not yet come. It will happen, when Dunedin finds confidence in itself again, then it will be great again. 

I have seen the vision and it was totally awesome!

Cable Car revival

Reviving the cable car system could be the most potent way of utilising and advertising Dunedin's existing heritage environment. The Maryhill extension was called the "Big Dipper" because it was so exciting and memorable. Oamaru has turned its Victorian heritage into part of its economic survival. Of all NZ's major cities, only Dunedin has enough heritage stuff left to turn it into a 'point of difference.'

Dunedin's cable cars were the second in the world, after San Fransisco, and are a completely different technology from the Wellington cable cars. Their presence would complement the Gasworks museum, Toitu, the railway station and many of the buildings which make Dunedin so distinctive.

Those who are concerned that cable cars will crowd out commuter cars, it is worth remembering that oil prices trend up over the long term. I now live in Auckland, where commuters are turning to public transport in steadily increasing numbers. The private car user's preferences should carry no more weight than any other segment of the community.

Bring the cruise ship passengers from Port Chalmers to the city in vintage railway carriages to complete the heritage experience.

I would use it . . .

. . . especially if it has bike racks. I'll also be donating, something I haven't felt inspired to do for other large projects. This could be the most exciting thing to happen in Dunedin since the gold rush!

Cable Car idea

To get back a cable car tourist attraction in Dunedin is simple - just rebuild the Maryhill steep bit beside Cable Car House!

Tourist buses then pull up in Mornington outside Cable Car House and the passengers ride to the bottom. The tourist bus then picks them up at the bottom.

For the really keen tourists, they can walk back up the steps and take another exciting sudden drop down ride!

This could be up and running in a year and cause minimal disruption to everyone.

What a fantastic opportunity

For the new hotel owners to get the public on their side. Donate $10 million to the cable car, for naming rights, and have the terminus at the hotel.


Cable car

The cable car is a great idea. Commuters (and I am one) would definitely use it. Hopefully tourists as well. Commuters would be particularly encouraged if there was a lot more parking available in Mornington. It would be great to be able to leave my car somewhere and hop on to the cable car, so easy!


Smart move

As I've pointed out before there's little point in building space for more tourists if the number of things there are for them to do here doesn't also increase - we can't just clone the albatross or penguins, and Baldwin St is, well, boring - this is a great example of someone approaching the issue of bringing new tourists to Dunedin from the right side of the issue - you don't just build new hotels with no reason for their potential guests to come - instead you build new hotels because the existing ones are overflowing.

Extra kudos go to a group who are trying to do this without any DCC funding. [abridged]

Cable car

I believe this would be aimed at tourists rather than commuters.

But I agree, why Mornington? There's nothing there and it's not the nicest place in Dunedin.

How about Roslyn - it was previously a great cable car route. It could either go from the Octagon up Stuart Street, or from the Exchange and up Rattray Street. I'd prefer it to go up Stuart Street and then around through the town belt past OBHS and up through the back end of Roslyn.

Once up there there's a great view from the bridge and some wonderful cafes and bars. It would be a nice ride for cruise ship passengers who could enjoy the view, have lunch and then back to town for some shopping.

This would help another area of town get some money out of the cruise ships.

High St cable car

I've frequently observed the buses going up and down High St. Twice a day they are somewhere near full. The vast majority of the time they are close to empty. I note the proposed service could carry 3 x 100 passengers at any one time. Where on earth will they find the customers?

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