Chaos as trial begins, then calm

Dozens of people visited a council marquee on the lakefront to view and discuss options for the...
Dozens of people visited a council marquee on the lakefront to view and discuss options for the town centre. PHOTO: SEAN NUGENT
The hum of conversation, the pitter-patter of feet, the laughter of children.

Those were the sounds that took over central Wanaka at lunchtime on Saturday as the town began to get used to the car-free trial that ends tomorrow.

Chaos reigned on Thursday and Friday when the trial began, as cars backed up for hundreds of metres along Brownston St, the only link through town over the five-day period.

Business owners were disgruntled by a lack of customers who could not get to their shops, and what they believed to be lack of consultation by the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

However, the weekend seemed to bring something different.

Ardmore St cafes were as busy as ever and there was not an empty outdoor seat in sight.

Dozens of children were making the most of the games provided by the council - dodgeball, volleyball, backyard cricket and chess - while their parents examined the options for the town centre's future in a council marquee.

Officially, the trial ends today at 3pm, but the streets will remain closed until tomorrow at 3pm so everything can be cleared.

Deputy mayor Calum MacLeod stressed that, while the trial appeared to be a success, if the town centre was to become pedestrianised permanently, traffic and parking issues to be addressed first.

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