Hovercraft consent

Cyclists taking on the 315km Alps 2 Ocean cycle trail will soon be able to complete the trail by either air or water, after consent was granted for a hovercraft to operate on the Tasman River.

The cycle trail runs from Aoraki-Mt Cook to Oamaru, but the only way for cyclists to cross the Tasman River at present is by helicopter.

However, a 12-seater Explorer 12 hovercraft, costing about $2 million, will be built for Twizel-based company H2Explore, after the conclusion of a year-long consent process.

H2Explore spokeswoman Rebecca Harnett said the company had worked closely with the Department of Conservation to establish a route that would take cyclists across the river between Iron Bridge and Tasman Point.

''We have worked very closely with Doc to design a route that suits everyone. Of course, it's a very, very precious part of the world, the Tasman River, so we have to be careful that we do this properly.''

The hovercraft, which will be built in Christchurch, could travel over a nest of birds without causing any harm, she said.

''That's how delicate they are. There is simply no impact on the environment.''

The hovercraft would be operational by December, Ms Harnett said.

Mackenzie district marketing co-ordinator Claire Hector-Taylor said the hovercraft service would provide visitors using the cycle trail with more options.

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