THE Government is set to press on with plans to build a new ferry terminal at Clifford Bay, south of Blenheim, that will force Picton to reinvent itself.
Transport minister Gerry Brownlee made the announcement yesterday, despite the cost increasing from $200m to $422m.
The move could cut more than half an hour off the current Wellington to Picton ferry trip, 80 minutes off a road-ferry trip from Wellington to Christchurch and close to two hours off a rail-ferry journey.
The move has been met with worry in Picton, which is reliant on trade coming from ferry passengers, with many business owners saying they would be badly hit by a relocation.
However Mr Brownlee said Picton had “intrinsic beauty” and had the potential to become another Queenstown.
“There are opportunities for a town like Picton, where most of the foreshore is taken up by the ferry terminal,” he told Fairfax NZ.
The ferries brought in more than a million passengers a year, and Picton Business Group chairman Graham Gosling said it could not match Queenstown’s number without them.
“We’re more of a summer destination than an all-year-round destination, and we just don’t have a lot of room to build extra accommodation.”
Marlborough Mayor Alistair Sowman said Picton would have to rebrand itself, which would be a challenge.
“They’re more likely to turn left and go to Christchurch than they are to turn right and come back up to Picton.”
Mr Brownlee said they could now justify testing assumptions about Clifford Bay’s commercial viability, and if approved, the new terminal could be built by 2020.