Commuter plan blows out gondola cost

A revised Queenstown gondola plan could incorporate a commuter service as well as skifield transportation, but the cost of the project has doubled to $100 million.

Alastair Porter
Alastair Porter

Developer Alastair Porter confirmed yesterday he was likely to file a resource consent application for a gondola from Remarkables Park to the Remarkables ski area in the first half of 2020.

All going to plan, it could be operational as soon as 2021.

Mr Porter said plans for the gondola had grown to include a stop at Lake Hayes Estate, providing an option for commuters.

But that change has also contributed to the cost of the development ballooning.

When the gondola, expected to be the longest in Australasia at 10km, was first announced in 2015, its cost was determined to be around $50 million.

That had jumped to $100 million, due to the double-whammy of the New Zealand dollar weakening and the additional commuter capabilities, Mr Porter said.

But it was still something of a silver lining for frustrated Lake Hayes and Shotover commuters, who have been battling traffic gridlock along State Highway 6.

''Remarkables Park has also planned a commuter gondola network within Remarkables Park Town Centre so that passengers can link to the ferry terminal (with ferry connections to Queenstown Bay) or ride to the Remarkables Park Convention Centre, hotel precinct or commercial recreation precinct,'' he said.

The council would have to approve the plan, he said.

''But it does seem that both the council and the community want public transport solutions to the Shotover Bridge and SH6 congestion that is experienced on a daily basis.''

The ride time on a gondola between Lake Hayes Estate and Remarkables Park would be 12 minutes, with a 10-seater cabin arriving every 15 seconds.

''It would be driven by a single electric motor, using renewable energy, so it is hard to envisage a safer, more environmentally friendly or lower impact public transport option.''

Mr Porter said other connections to places such as Jack's Point and Hanley's Farm were possible, but more public consultation was needed.

If consent for the gondola was granted, construction was expected to take about 18 months.

He said commercial partners had already signalled interest in investing in the project, but that was still some way off.

Mr Porter, along with Queenstown Mayor Jim Boult, is set to discuss the project at a public meeting at Shotover Primary School on Monday night.

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