Now is the time to build new ferry terminals to help enhance the experience for tourists, says the New Zealand Shipping Federation.
In a plea to the government to lead the consolidation of ferry operators Bluebridge and Interislander’s separate terminals at both Picton and Wellington, the federation said a new single terminal at each destination should be able to service multiple operators.
Federation executive director Annabel Young said consolidation would enhance the experiences of tourists – of which around 1.5m used the ferries last year – and allow more efficient freight operations. Earthquake resilience could also be improved.
“The capital city and Picton both deserve terminals that are good tourism experiences for passengers,” said Young.
“Everyone seems to support the idea but there is a lack of central government leadership to get all the interested parties on board. We are asking the government for leadership, not money. It is about getting everyone engaged.”
Wellington port operator CentrePort is due a quake insurance payout which could contribute to the cost of a new terminal, said Young.
CentrePort is currently talking to the government and key stakeholders about how to build resilience into the Cook Strait connection, which could involve infrastructure modernisation.
Port Marlborough business delivery manager Rhys Welbourn said the port has been considering a new terminal.
“However, to invest in the future we need to know what the future will look like – what kind of ferries will be calling? What size? For how long?” said Welbourn.
A long-term commitment by customers to Picton would be crucial for the port to decide to invest.
A spokesperson for Transport Minister Simon Bridges said the government was open to discussing and reviewing proposals with stakeholders.
“Ultimately, it is a matter for the port companies, regional councils, NZTA and KiwiRail but if stakeholders identified a role for government to play we are open to considering it.”