Busy shuttle taking break

The St John Wakatipu Health Shuttle is taking a break for Christmas after clocking up more mileage transporting people to their health-related appointments and bringing them home than any other shuttle in the South Island.

St John South Island community care manager Pam Hall said the shuttles in Wakatipu, Central Otago, Invercargill to Dunedin, Mid Canterbury and North Canterbury ''have had a great year'' and collectively travelled 273,940km - the equivalent of travelling from Queenstown to London more than 14 times.

The $80,000 Wakatipu shuttle was launched just over one year ago and has driven 109,650km on return trips from bus stops in Queenstown, Frankton and Arrowtown down to health professionals in Invercargill.

The Wakatipu shuttle has travelled almost twice as far as its nearest neighbour, serving Central Otago, which travelled 54,390km.

The 12-seat 2012 Ford Transit was the fourth shuttle to hit the road in the South Island with uniformed and first-aid trained volunteer drivers.

Clients are invited to give on average $30 for the service, or any donation, but those who cannot afford to give are not turned away.

St John Wakatipu area executive officer Jessica Patch said the shuttle averaged 28 clients a month in its first year of operation.

The service was supported by donations from the community, plus substantial funding from Delta Utilities and Perpetual Trust.

Miss Patch thanked the 26 volunteers on roster for their hard work in keeping the service on the highway.

Mrs Hall said all volunteers would rest over Christmas. December 20 would be the the last day of operation for the year.

Services would resume on January 13.

''St John Health Shuttles, which are proudly supported by Four Square Supermarkets in the South Island, provide an important service to people who may have transportation issues and are unable to get to health-related appointments,'' Mrs Hall said.

''We'd like to wish all of our clients, and the community groups we work with, a merry Christmas and a fantastic and relaxing New Year.''