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The Waimakariri District Council’s vision of creating ‘New Zealand’s Best Rivertown’ has been given a boost with the recent arrival of the grand River Queen paddle steamer.
Local development company PLC Group purchased the historic vessel and had it transported to Kaiapoi earlier this month with a view to operating cruises on the Kaiapoi River. Jedd Pearce of PLC Group says the plan is to have the boat operating by mid-2019.
“We’re going to give it a make-over and freshen it up and hopefully as soon as the council has finished setting up the pontoons on the river we will have it up and running.
“We hope to have it running on the river at least once a day and twice in the weekend.”
The River Queen has operated for a number of years as a tourist attraction in the Marlborough region. Pearce says it is licensed to carry 99 people plus six crew.
“We’ve been looking for a boat for a while now, and when the River Queen came up we thought we better grab the opportunity.”
The boat was transported from Blenheim via truck, arriving in Kaiapoi on November 9th. It is currently parked up on dry land near Placemakers Kaiapoi.
The Waimakariri District Council accepted the Kaiapoi Town Centre Plan this month, following a public consultation process. The plan seeks to turn Kaiapoi into New Zealand’s best river town with the development of a number of features including the Kaiapoi Marine Precinct that features floating pontoons, a fishing platform and riverside terraces. The plan states, “…riverbank enhancement and introducing canal and house boats are important to activate and address the river edges, bringing vibrancy and interest, and a point of difference to the area”.
As the district promotions agency for Waimakariri District Council, Enterprise North Canterbury’s Chief Executive Heather Warwick commends PLC Group for their investment.
“This will bring many new visitors to the town and district, particularly on the weekends; people will enjoy ‘destination Kaiapoi’ for a craft beer, canoeing, paddle boarding, cycling, fishing and, now, a river cruise.”
Kaiapoi hasn’t had a regular cruise boat on the Kaiapoi River since the demise of the previous cruise vessel – the MV Tuhoe – which ran aground and was subsequently destroyed in 2015.