Floatplane enterprise is seeking to start up

Lake Wakatipu might be home to another water tourism operation — if it can get off the ground.

Queenstown Floatplane Services Ltd has applied for resource consent to land and take off up to 10 times a day from either Bobs Cove, Wilson Bay, Sunshine Bay or an unnamed bay between the last two.

The floatplane company, owned by local Dalefield property owner James Gott, would choose which bay to operate from based on wind direction and surface conditions, including whether other lake craft were present.

It was proposing to use two Cessna Supervan 900 aircraft capable of carrying nine people including the pilot.

Mr Gott’s planner claimed his proposal would have far less impact than previous floatplane proposals because it avoided Queenstown Bay and there would not be any permanent structure on the bed of the lake.

Passengers would board the plane from the shore, from where it would be towed to the take-off and landing area. In 2009, Kiwi pilot Brent Collins proposed a Queenstown Bay-based operation, though the "air strip" was to be more than 800m from the tip of the Gardens peninsula.

Before the proposal was abandoned there was substantial opposition including an "Opposition to Float Plane Runway in Queenstown Bay" group, formed by a local resident.

Mr Gott’s application said he had "taken great care in selecting the take-off and landing locations, as well as the flight paths, to minimise potential noise disturbance and adverse amenity effects".

"The take-off and landing locations have been relocated after discussion with the council to have them further set back from the land."

A report by acoustic consultants recommended the aircraft took off more than one kilometre from the nearest dwelling, in each bay, to meet New Zealand noise standards. However, Mr Gott was likely to face strong opposition from residents. Sue Farry, who had lived in the vicinity since 1975, said using Bobs Cove for a floatplane landing strip was "just ridiculous".

She said the area hosted the closest stand of native bush to central Queenstown, attracting birdlife that she maintained would be incompatible with floatplanes.

Kris Vermeir moved in about 15 years ago. He noted that Southern Discoveries’ Spirit of Queenstown catamaran silenced its engines when it pulled into Bobs Cove for stopovers on its daily cruises to Mt Nicholas.

Mr Gott could not be reached for comment. 

- Philip Chandler

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