Fast cat on shortlist
A catamaran venture based in Porirua is on the shortlist of bidders vying for new Kapiti Island tourism contracts.
The Conservation Department recently announced a shortlist of five businesses bidding for licences to run tourism ventures on the island.
John McKenny, who owns Seal Coast Safari and John’s Hop on Hop Off City Tour, plans to launch catamaran visits if he secures a contract.
‘‘My proposal is to leave in a 50-seater catamaran from Mana and go zooming straight up to Kapiti and then come back. ‘‘There would be two three-hour tours per day.’’ Mr McKenny said his two businesses take about 10,000 people on Wellington tours annually.
With close links to booking agents on visiting cruise ships, he hopes to raise the island’s profile internationally.
‘‘On the way up we can be possibly looking at orcas, dolphins.
‘‘It would be a brand new catamaran and it would be set up for audio-visual on the way up.
‘‘We can be giving nature talks, and cultural talks.’’
The concession shortlist includes ferry operators Kapiti Tours, and Kapiti Marine Charters, along with Kapiti Island Nature Tours, and Kapiti Heliworx.
DOC Kapiti- Wellington area manager Rob Stone said there could be more than one successful concession bidder.
‘‘Potentially there could be five concessionaires at the end of the process.
‘‘I’m not saying that is the case, but that is potentially the case.’’
He confirmed the selection process would eventually replace the travel concessions currently held by ferry services Kapiti Tours, and Kapiti Marine Charters.
Mr Stone said DOC would double the daily visitor limit, with 100 permits available each day, and extend the visiting hours to allow earlier arrivals and later departures.
An average of 8000 people visit Kapiti Island each year, which falls well short of the 30,000 allowed.