Jet-boat restriction on river approved

The upper reach of the Clutha River, just below the lake outlet. Photo: ODT
The upper reach of the Clutha River, just below the lake outlet. Photo: ODT
Swimmers, kayakers and paddleboarders can rejoice — this summer  they can enjoy the upper stretch of the Clutha River without worrying about large numbers of jet-boats.

Queenstown Lakes district councillors met  on Tuesday to consider proposed amendments to the district’s navigation safety bylaw, which would mean all powered craft would be banned from the Clutha River between the Outlet and the Albert Town Bridge from December 1 to April 30, unless they  have an existing resource consent (as many commercial operators do), are carrying out scientific activity, or  being operated by the harbourmaster.

A five-knot speed limit would also apply on the same stretch of river between May 1 and November 30 when travelling before 10am and after 6pm. There would  be  no speed restriction between the Albert Town Bridge and the Red Bridge.

Following a brief discussion, councillors unanimously voted to adopt the proposed amendments.

The decision comes after more than a year of consultation, in which time  more than 1800 comments and submissions from the community had been received by the council,  although with divided opinion, according to regulatory manager Lee Webster.

In its latest consultation in August, the council received 651 submissions, 342 of which were in favour and 309 were against, but councillors saw the benefit of protecting passive users of the river.

"I think the growth of Wanaka’s populace and the increase of visitors over the last couple of years means passive users [of the river] really need some protection and for that reason I really support this," Cr Penny Clark said.

The new rules will come into effect on December 1.

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