FEATURE ARTICLE – GONDOLA ACCESS PROPOSALS…
With a few ski area expansion proposals in the planning or nearing completion, the discussion inevitably comes back to Mt. Taranaki’s own failed attempts to get a Gondola in the Egmont National Park.
Meanwhile, Improvements scheduled this season for NZ ski areas include
- Coronet Peak – double its beginner area, by addition of a new slope equipped with a Magic Carpet Lift.
- The Remarkables - summer earthworks for the brand new UP & GO Terrain Park.
- Treble Cone - trail improvement, sewage system upgrade
- Turoa - 6 Speed detachable chair, increased snowmaking, expanded base café
Current Gondola plans include
- Treble Cone access
- Waiorau Snow Farm in the Cardrona Valley
- Milford Sound access, from Glenorchy
Treble Cone upgrade continues
By now you may be aware of Treble Cone ski area’s plans to build a gondola accessing the ski area from the base of the mountain….
Artist's impression of the base complex; one of the options for the route of the gondola
The Treble Cone Gondola proposal will for the first time in New Zealand provide the level of service demanded by skiers and snowboarders at world-class resorts.
The gondola would have the capacity to transport 2000 passengers an hour, rising 945 metres vertically from Cattle Flat. The 3.3km trip would take just over 10 minutes and initial construction would take 10 months.
- Top Elevation: 1,254m
- Bottom Elevation: 309m
- Vertical Drop: 945m
- Travel Distance: 3,276m
- Travel Time: 10 min 48 sec
- Capacity: 2,000 per hour
- Summit Elevation: 2088m (6,850 ft)
A charge will be added into the price of a ski pass.
Cost: approx $NZ20 million
The proposal will link the alpine ski area with Cattle Flat in the Matukituki Valley below.
A base station building planned for an area about 130m east of the road, would include ski rental area, retail activities, cafe, toilets and car parking for 1550 vehicles.
The developers feel that New Zealand needed to drop the mentality of expecting visitors to drive up its challenging alpine roads.
While ski area gondolas were generally misunderstood in a country with no experience of them, roads were an outdated means of access and, in that sense, New Zealand lagged behind the world.
It is a given that a gondola would not only be safer, it would provide an energy-efficient and sustainable transport system for the future.
The ski resort was under pressure to widen the road, which was constantly being repaired.
The gondola also offers safety advantages - in 2004 three Sydney students were killed when their vehicle plunged 180m off the ski field road
At present this proposal has stalled, after the resource consent hearing stage…
Commissioners involved in last year's resource consent hearing issued a memorandum to the applicant, Snowline Holdings Ltd, saying base facilities including a cafe, souvenir shop and ski hire base were an impediment to consent.
Commissioners said a base station would be better suited at an alternative site to the two options proposed, to align the gondola more directly over the existing skifield access road and to locate the base station closer to existing farm buildings and as close as possible to the base of the mountain.
After the hearing, developer Richard Hanson said new plans for the gondola were on hold.
He said the company did not have any immediate plans to resubmit the proposal.
Treble Cone ski area operators say mountain developments will continue this year "with or without a gondola".
Marketing manager Anna Yeates said the immediate goal was to increase intermediate ground terrain for a better experience.
"Our goal right now is to get ready for a winter season that doesn't include a gondola," she said.
New rules make hard work for Milford gondola plan
The controversial Queenstown-Milford gondola proposal could be derailed within six weeks if its backers are declined permission to build an "amenity area", says the Department of Conservation.
Skyline Enterprises announced plans for a $100 million gondola cableway from the head of Lake Wakatipu to Lake Gunn, alongside the Milford Road.
It is working on the project with Ngai Tahu Developments under the name Skytrail.
Last week the Conservation Authority released its new policies for national parks, which include tighter rules on gondolas, only allowing them in amenity areas.
DoC Southland Martin Rodd said granting an amenity area in Fiordland would be a major change and would represent a "very permissive" move in favour of development within the park.
Declining Ngai Tahu an amenity area would preclude the gondola development from going ahead.
Earlier this year, Ngai Tahu objected to a clause in the draft national park rules specifically banning gondolas in national parks and forced a change in wording.
Skytrail spokesman Adrian Januszkiewicz refused to comment on the effect the refusal of an amenity area would have on the development.
NZ Herald June 07, 2005
From: "Keith Blayney" <email@example.com>
Egmont National Park Gondola
The idea of a Gondola gracing Mt Taranaki has been touted for some time.
The most recent idea was to have the gondola to Fantham's Peak.
Rangitoto Flat was seen potentially as an exciting ski area with a much better season than Manganui. A skifield would need more substantial shelter, catering and viewing facilities which would add to the attraction of a gondola ride at any time of the year.
As recently as 2004, a feasibility study was released. Its conclusions were not favourable…
Building a Gondola on the slopes of Mt. Taranaki is not economically viable and would not attract more international visitors to the region, according to a feasibility study released yesterday…”these are projects whose time has not yet come, but this study should not preclude smaller projects, such as cableway across the Manganui Gorge.”
Stratford Mayor Brian Jeffares, who has been a long-term supporter of the project, was disappointed with the news. “Unless we can find someone who is prepared to write a cheque out for $14millon and not expect a return, it’s not going to happen”, he said.
…this aside, it seems that the Department of Conservation’s Management Plan was not favourable either…
DoC Egmont National Park Management Plan 2002-2012
Page 29 of 40.
At present there is a cableway and power distribution line across the Manganui Gorge to the Ski field. This allows equipment and supplies to be transported across the gorge in a flying fox to Manganui Skifield and the Skifield.
Gondolas have been used elsewhere in New Zealand and overseas and have been suggested for use in Egmont National Park . Visual and other impacts, such as removal of vegetation and expansion of facilities, resulting from the construction and operation of a gondola are not considered to be compatible with the general purpose of preserving the park. Any applications for gondolas and aerial cableways will be considered under the concessions process, guided by all matters referred to in section 3.3.2. (section on concessions)
1. The building of further aerial cableways, including gondolas and flying foxes and associated activities, is considered inappropriate and will be discouraged.
2. Further development and intensification (not including maintenance) of existing cableways, except where development would increase safety to park users, is considered inappropriate and will be discouraged.