Picton gondola? Forget about it, says company
Franz Josef, sure. Picton, no.
The company behind glacial gondola plans on the West Coast has poured cold water on any thoughts of doing something similar in the ‘‘gateway to the south’’.
Skyline Enterprises, which is trying to push through plans for a gondola at Franz Josef Glacier, thinks tourist numbers and the appetite for another scenic gondola just aren’t there. But yearon-year increases in tourist numbers in Picton due to recordbreaking cruise seasons, and the 780,000 annual ferry passengers, have some locals clinging to the idea.
A gondola up Collins Hill was the brainchild of former motelier Eric Collins, who spent close to 30 years researching his dream before dropping it in 2016.
There are three gondolas in New Zealand – in Rotorua, Queenstown and Christchurch. Skyline owns the Rotorua and Queenstown gondolas, among other tourism holdings, and has applied for consent to build the Franz Josef gondola.
Skyline chairman Mark Quickfall said the growth of the cruise ship industry was probably not enough to make a Picton gondola economically viable.
Tourist numbers were the main sticking point for the proposed multimillion-dollar development, and a feasibility study, commissioned by Collins, showed Picton did not have the tourism industry to justify the expense.
Destination Marlborough general manager Jacqui Lloyd said she thought the gondola would be a ‘‘fantastic opportunity’’ for the region.
‘‘The location is stunning and the views are amazing.’’