Bylaw opposed, KJet want ferry
A Queenstown jet boat company wants to operate a water taxi service from Queenstown to the bungy bridge on the Kawarau River.
Kawarau Jet Services Ltd appeared at a Queenstown Lakes District Council hearing to oppose an existing Navigation Safety Bylaw rule prohibiting powered vessels to operate on the river to the AJ Hackett Bungy Bridge.
The stretch of the Kawarau River downstream from Arrow River junction was restricted after two jet boat fatalities in the 1960s and 1970s.
The company, known as KJet, has opposed the bylaw since it was introduced in 2009.
At a hearing reviewing the bylaw, business counsel for KJet James Gardner-Hopkins applied for a rule exemption to allow the company to operate on the prohibited part of the river.
He said KJet proposed a new ferry service in Queenstown, as its operations were not ‘‘just thrill seeking activities’’.
A closed 40-seater boat with a twin engine would travel from central Queenstown along Lake Wakatipu and pick up passengers from the Kawarau Bungy Bridge.
Implementation would be staged and eventually include the airport, Jacks Point, Queenstown Bay and Sunshine Bay, Gardner-Hopkins said in a submission.
The company proposed installing CCTV below Arrow River to manage any risks and hoped to lodge a resource consent application next month.
However, the restricted area was used by kayakers, canoeists, rafters, river bugs and river boarders, and Whitewater NZ member Gordon Rayner said non-powered vessels would be at ‘‘significant risk’’ around jet boats.
He had been battling with KJet for 16 years.
‘‘We want that process to come to an end.’’
Multiple jet boat trips daily would put other river users in ‘‘extreme danger’’, Rayner said.
‘‘It can have tragic consequences. Jet boats and kayakers don’t mix and they’ve historically stayed apart.’’
The number of kayakers and stand up paddle boarders in the region was increasing due to population growth.
The hearing panel will make a recommendation to the Queenstown Lakes District Council in December.