Coastguard seeking help

Coastguard Queenstown's days of operating out of a 2m-by-3m storage room at the back of a scout hall are numbered and the group is asking for help to raise the remaining funds needed for its planned new headquarters.

Laura Harry, who has many roles with Coastguard Queenstown, including board secretary, treasurer and project manager for the head quarters, said the group was established in 2007 and had operated from various back rooms, storerooms and private homes.

The charity has rescued 143 people, responded to 76 public-assistance calls and been called upon by the police to assist in 50 search-and-rescue events. Now it is asking for help itself.

''We view it as a project that's urgently needed,'' Ms Harry said.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council has given consent for a lease on a site next to the Scout building at Frankton Marina and the Coastguard has planned a two-level building as its headquarters.

Ms Harry said the total cost of the project was $575,000.

Fundraising was recently given a boost by the Central Lakes Trust to the tune of $250,000 but $164,281 was still needed.

Last year $13,000 was raised from the Thriller in the Chiller, held during the Queenstown Winter Festival, and money has been collected from companies and individuals.

Ms Harry said the 25 active wet crew and eight shore crew trained for rescues they hoped would not happen, but the group was essential.

''We have certainly had two quiet years and I don't know if that's because the community is taking more care. There are 28,000 residents and 1.8 million visitors - that's a phenomenal amount of people coming to this area.''