Wanaka: Government permission to build the world's
longest monorail, in Fiordland, has been delayed again.
The Department of Conservation's support for the 43km
Fiordland Link Experience monorail was announced in October
and Minister of Conservation Nick Smith said at the time he
would make his decision by Christmas.
He then decided to obtain more information on the monorail's
financial viability and said a decision would be out by
A spokeswoman for Dr Smith's office told the Otago Daily
Times yesterday the decision would now be announced next
Dr Smith's concern was that if the project failed, it could
leave a half-built structure on conservation land.
The spokeswoman said a draft report had been completed and Dr
Smith was awaiting further information from the monorail
developers, Riverstone Holdings.
Riverstone's major shareholder, Bob Robertson, of Wanaka,
yesterday said he was not surprised at the length of time it
was taking to assess the monorail's economic viability.
There were many issues to deal with and it was his preference
the assessment, when it was finished, was accurate.
A preliminary report showed capital costs had increased, but
he believed the ''relatively conservative'' capital cost
figure of $244 million being used could be reduced.
The cost included $200 million for the monorail itself and
the rest for such things as vehicles to transfer tourists
between the monorail and Queenstown.
Mr Robertson was quite confident the monorail, which needed
75,000 passengers a year to break even, was ''hugely
viable''. He expected it to attract 330,000 passengers in its
Asked about the continuing delays, Mr Robertson said he was
busy working on several other major projects, including a
44-apartment development overlooking Roys Bay, Lake Wanaka,
and a 1500-lot commercial and residential development in
Even if Government approval had been obtained, the monorail
would not be getting his full attention at present, he said.
The monorail proposal to link Queenstown to Te Anau Downs and
subsequently Milford Sound has been controversial, with a
campaign opposing it headed by former Southland mayor Frana
Cardno, of Te Anau.