Business is booming on Queenstown's waterways - especially
from the point of view of Queenstown Lakes District Council
staff, commissioners and lawyers.
Queenstown Water Taxis, trading as Thunder Jet, has applied
to extend its existing consented routes to include taking
passengers from the confluence of the Kawarau and Shotover
Rivers to the upper extent of Tuckers Beach.
The proposal's only official opposition came from Kawarau Jet
Services Holdings Ltd, or KJet, which is also applying to
have its route extended, in its case to the Kawarau
suspension bridge, next to the Kawarau Bungy Centre.
Thunder Jet also wants to increase passenger numbers to 34
per trip for two existing resource consents which at present
allow for 19 and 23 passengers on the Kawarau River.
Yesterday, independent commissioners John Milligan and Leigh
Overton undertook a site visit and heard opening submissions
for Queenstown Water Taxis Ltd and evidence from company
representative Neville Kelly, whose brother is KJet director
The resource consent sought would provide for up to 34 trips
on the Lower Shotover River from the confluence of the
Kawarau and Shotover Rivers to Tuckers Beach. KJet opposes
Thunder Jet's application and is expected to present its case
There is dispute about how many consents KJet holds and how
many trips per day it is allowed to operate.
Representing Queenstown Water Taxis, Pru Steven yesterday
said KJet could not ''command a position of monopoly on the
river'' using its unimplemented consents ''To keep a
competitor off the river in the face of this uncertainty only
advances the commercial position of KJet.''
Neville Kelly told the commissioners he was a shareholder in
Queenstown Water Taxis Ltd and he and wife Debbie bought
Kawarau Jet in 1987 when it was a one-boat operation and
Shaun Kelly became a shareholder in the company.
Neville Kelly and Debbie ''came out of the business in
November 1999 when we sold our interest in Kawarau Jet''.
In 2008, ''we bought Queenstown Water Taxis and went through
the consenting process to get Thunder Jet up and running''.
A prolonged legal battle with KJet ensued, although Thunder
Jet's consents were later approved in 2011 by the Environment
In addition, another jet boat company, Eco Jets, wants to
establish, and a ferry across ''The Narrows'' from Park St to
Kelvin Peninsula is proposed by Real Journeys.