Hopes cruise ship visit will set precedent

Caledonian Sky became the first cruise ship to visit Riverton yesterday. Photo: Environment Southland
Caledonian Sky became the first cruise ship to visit Riverton yesterday. Photo: Environment Southland
Riverton has experienced a cruise ship visit for the first time, bringing more than 100 cycling enthusiasts to the the town.

Caledonian Sky docked just off the coast of the town at 9am yesterday in what is believed to be the largest ship visit to Riverton in 117 years.

Due to the shallowness of the harbour, the ship dropped anchor at a depth of 10m and passengers were tendered to shore with the assistance of the coastguard.

Southland regional harbourmaster Lyndon Cleaver said a great deal of planning was put into the visit.

''Riverton is restricted by a sandbar at the [harbour] entrance so you really need to have local knowledge on how to access into the port of Riverton. We used the coastguard to lead the tenders in over the sandbar and up through to the wharf, where they unloaded the cyclists.''

The cyclists were greeted by Southland Mayor Gary Tong on arrival in the town, where they visited the Te Hikoi Museum before cycling to Invercargill.

Mr Cleaver said ships ''of only a certain size'' were able to anchor in the area and the conditions had to be just right for it to successfully take place.

The weather yesterday was ''just right'' for the visit, he said, and if the visit was deemed successful, other ships could return to the area.

Riverton Aparima Community Board chairman Blair Stewart said the visit was unique for Riverton but he was excited about the opportunities it could bring.

He hoped the visit could lead to further cruise ships anchoring off shore and visitors spending multiple days in the town.

The cyclists ended the day in Bluff, where they met the ship, before an overnight cruise to Dunedin. The ship is expected to berth at Beach St wharf at 7.30am today, before sailing for Akaroa at 10.30am.

ben.waterworth@odt.co.nz

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