By­law op­posed, KJet want ferry

Central Otago Mirror - - CONVERSATIONS - DASHA KU­PRIENKO

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.

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