Picton to Clifford Bay

May 9th, 2011 at 7:33 am by David Farrar

As a boy growing up in Island Bay, I saw the inter-island ferries (we just called them the ferries) every day. There were four of them – the Aramoana, Aranui, Arahunga and Aratika. I could actually tell which was which from a distance.

The Aratika was the most modern one, and the Arahunga was mainly for freight.

Then they had a fifth ferry, which was called Ara5 until it got its official name of Arahura. That is still in service today, along with the Aratere and the Kaitaki.

Anyway Stuff reports:

Preliminary work on a $200 million port south of Blenheim to replace the Picton ferry terminal could begin within months, with the Government set to announce a high-level study today.

is backing the plan for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) terminal at Clifford Bay, with its own work suggesting it would boost its business and the wider economy significantly.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce said yesterday: “It will take a while to get it built but it will actually shorten the time between Wellington and Christchurch, and Auckland and Christchurch for rail by nearly two hours, and road by 80 or 90 minutes.”

Despite all my childhood memories of travel to Picton, I have to say it does make a lot of sense to move the terminals to Clifford Bay. It will make getting to Christchurch less painful.

It’s a lot better today, but for many years there were basically no 24 hour petrol stations between Picton and Christchurch so if you did not fill up in Picton, you might not make Christchurch,

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24 Responses to “Picton to Clifford Bay”

  1. RRM (9,638 comments) says:

    This ferry spotter can still tell them apart. Aratere is the one with two funnels, and Kaitaki is the big f-off one that’s twice the size of the other two ;-)

    (The pies and fried chips are still straight out of the 1970s no matter which ferry you sail on…)

    I wasn’t a fan of the idea of changing the route ten years ago when I was using the ferries every year to drive to chch for university, passing the Tory channel entrance and then cruising up the sounds was such a wonderful way to arrive in the south island that it made the slightly longer trip worthwhile. But Picton was still a real south island town then, unsullied by touristy BS and restaurants with corporate logos etc. It’s not the same now.

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  2. Elaycee (4,332 comments) says:

    The rationale behind a move to Clifford Bay is based on plain common sense.

    Firstly, there is the obvious one of the reduction in travel time between Wellington to Christchurch.

    Second, I hear that the charges for Kiwi Rail to use the Port of Picton are to significantly increase. Any increase in charges forces Kiwi Rail to revisit all charges (and in extreme cases, the business case). Nothing new here.

    Third, the rail route from Clifford Bay to Christchurch is on relatively flat terrain and this means that Kiwi Rail would not be required to dedicate double teamed locomotives to get the freight trains to CHC. Currently, to get from Picton to CHC requires double teamed locomotives for the southern leg in particular (there has always been an imbalance of freight – tonnage moving south is heavy compared to freight heading north. Given the earthquake and business disruption in CHC, its highly likely that this tonnage has dropped off further).

    Whilst there is a one off cost of establishment in Clifford Bay, the long term benefits to (a) business wanting freight moved as quickly as possible between islands (b) the uncertainty of charges at the Port of Picton and (c) the reduction in costs getting freight from Clifford Bay to CHC compared to Picton / CHC, means this is a no brainer. Whilst the town of Picton will experience a major drop off in tourism (the town shifts from being on the arterial route to being a dedicated destination), the decision for Kiwi Rail is easy.

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  3. tvb (4,246 comments) says:

    No so good for Nelson and Golden Bay I suspect. But Rail could drop the rail line between Clifford Bay and Picton, so that will save costs. And it would mean a rougher crossing as you would be exposed to the Southerly all the way.

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  4. Brian Harmer (686 comments) says:

    “Arahanga”

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  5. Chris R (65 comments) says:

    It is a great idea and well overdue. Now would be the time to develop Ward…new motels/motor-inn, service station, coffee shops….money to be made there.

    It is the northerly which knocks the ferry about the most so I suspect that the new route away from the strait towards the Kaikoura Coast is preferable. The Marlborough authorities have brought this on themselves due to thinking they have a captive customer who can be billed and billed to the extreme.

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  6. david (2,553 comments) says:

    Not to mention the noisy people who have made it a reach of navigation restrictions to travel at a reasonable speed up the Sound. That is time and cost but inevitably will kill Picton stone dead along with the investments and jobs that have been built up there..

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  7. GAZMAN (21 comments) says:

    I have fond memories too of the “Picton Ferries” and Picton itself but I think the move to Clifford Bay is probably a good idea. Its a pity they don’t bring back the ferry service to Lyttleton….. I have some sentiment with that route as I was a seven month old survivor on the Wahine when it sank in Wellington harbour en route from Lyttleton in 1968.

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  8. freedom101 (481 comments) says:

    This is the sort of infrastructure investment required to increase national productivity. It’s easy to fund. Simply close down a couple of useless ministries such as Women’s Affairs and use the operational savings to fund the debt repayment schedule. We can have Clifford Bay for $0 cost simply by reshuffling spending from areas of zero return.

    Why is National so happy to continue with obviously wasteful spending while borrowing $300m per week?

    It’s time to completely review vast areas of expenditure and refocus priorities to move the economy forward.

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  9. publicwatchdog (2,270 comments) says:

    “KiwiRail is backing the plan for a Public Private Partnership (PPP) terminal at Clifford Bay, with its own work suggesting it would boost its business and the wider economy significantly.”
    ______________________________________________________________________________________________________

    Where is the ‘cost-benefit analysis’ supporting this proposed Public Private Partnership (PPP) ?

    Who has lobbied for this proposed Public Private Partnership (PPP)?

    Who are the most likely contenders to get any such PPP contract?

    Where is the Regulatory Impact Report/Statement supporting this proposal, and who were parties in the ‘consultation’ or ‘advisory’ process?

    Penny Bright
    http://waterpressure.wordpress.com

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  10. tvb (4,246 comments) says:

    I loved the Wellington to Lyttleton trip as well, but it was overnight and I suspect that is not really economic. Better to drive instead. I wonder whether the Clifford Bay trip is faster. I assume it is as they have to slow down for the Sounds. They could possibly get an extra trip in per day which at peak season could make it much more economic. The Labour Party are against the PPP, just where do they think the money is coming from – increased taxes??

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  11. wreck1080 (3,800 comments) says:

    Age old question: Take the scenic route or the highway?

    Answer depends on who you ask – tourist or truck driver.

    Can they keep a smaller service operating for the tourists?

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  12. mpledger (429 comments) says:

    I don’t think it will make much difference to Nelson because Picton – Havelock – Nelson is about the same as Picton – Blenheim – Havelock – Nelson because of the terrain west of Picton (or it used to be in my day). And Clifford Bay is not far from Blenheim.

    The main problem is that Clifford Bay is brutally exposed to the weather. The Picton trip is mostly in the calm waters of the Sounds, the Clifford Bay trip is going to be almost totally in open ocean.

    I expect it’s just railways using leverage to keep the rent renewal deal as low as possible.

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  13. thedavincimode (6,589 comments) says:

    Why do we still focus on trade with the South Island?

    Isn’t Australia our biggest trading partner? Why not build a new ferry terminal over there?

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  14. cabbage (455 comments) says:

    Makes perfect sense to me, plus could provide the opportunity to develop a tourist route to picton. Everyone wins.

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  15. marcw (238 comments) says:

    There may be petrol stations open between Picton and Christchurch, but I would stongly advise anyone that they should only consider using them in cases of emergency – you will pay an extortionate price for the privilege otherwise. In my experience NEVER use a petrol station which does not display it’s current price by way of a large roadside display – they usually have something to hide. This especially applies to a place starting with K about halfway between Picton and Chch. (Which BTW is a shame, as this town has a lot of other nice and good things to offer).

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  16. gravedodger (1,528 comments) says:

    A Clifford Bay Terminal is the trump card in the pack whenever the Marborough Port Company commences the deal to rort more funding from what they consider their right to tax.
    Toll Holdings at the last round they had to negotiate, actually raised the stakes by the purchase of the land at CB to give strength to their alternative.
    As a tourist route the QC link is a real money maker for Picton and by extension Nelson but as a freight / SH1 link for the rest going about their Business it is an expensive white elephant.
    It is all very simple WGN to CB shorter faster sea miles, less congested sea lanes and very little more subject to weather than the existing route.
    As one who has used the link for business and pleasure for nearly 50 years and I would hate to think how many Xings, enduring appalling food and service , being held hostage by the scumbag unions who treated the whole shebang as their personal plaything, I for one would welcome the development of CB as the SI terminal as a big step to progress.
    Any talk of limitations on days available is of little consequence as the most limiting factors are mainly the sea conditions in the Straight that impact on vehicle safety, vessel stability and passenger comfort, Ferries are, by the roll on roll off nature of their loading, open to more problems of load stability than pure freight vessels. eg Forty tonne rigs with cargo and suspension instability, stowed on upper decks.

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  17. RRM (9,638 comments) says:

    Would appalling food and the scumbag unions be barred from a new Clifford Bay terminal GD?

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  18. gravedodger (1,528 comments) says:

    Easy RRM, you wont be on board for over 4 hours, about two and a half / three, so with more efficient loading and unloading, along with highway access to the terminal your blood sugar wont be a problem. Boom times for Ward and Kekerangu coming though, the roadside Cafe at Kekerangu is a great largely unknown visit for food and a break, I fervently they have good title to their land there

    Kiwirail may still wish to run a service to Picton but without the subsidy from freight I doubt it

    I would be interested to Bluebridge’s take on it. The introduction of the competition from them has largely removed the base antics of crooks and sewerage union and the semen union as they are somewhat circumsised did I mean circumscribed these days

    I recall arriving at WGN for a commercial xing at the end of summer school Holidays around January 1980 to be told on our bus at the terminal, ” no sailings for an indefinite period”.
    Cost a night in the old pub at pigeon park, then had to fly to Woodbourne next morning, and hitch back to Picton to retrieve car, Drive to CHC Airport to collect the missus, who couldn’t get on a flight to Woodbourne and had to fly to CHC, and then drive back home to Nth Canterbury. Pack of insensitive bastards, All over a semen getting a cool breakki or similar from a crook and sewerage member but was in fact probably just another act in their little game of charades every school holls.

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  19. OTGO (523 comments) says:

    Forget the ferries. Why not bite the bullet now and build a brand new 8 lane bridge between the islands like one of these http://thecontaminated.com/ten-longest-bridges-in-world/ If we didn’t have the labour get the Chinese over to do it. Hell I see enough of them around maybe they are here already…

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  20. Steve (4,522 comments) says:

    Good idea OTGO.
    The the Union pricks will have another place to disrupt the ‘once every 5 year’ holidaymaker.
    Let China build it, sure! We can’t even build a road at Waikanae without the Maoris wanting compensation

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  21. Komata (1,142 comments) says:

    The CB terminal idea has been around for over a decade, but has never been taken beyond the ‘proposal’ stage. Can anyone amongst the readership recall what sank it last time around (haven’t go my notes in front of me)? I seem to remember that Labour gave it the thumbs down because of some local wildlife (Terns?) and that as a result it was allowed to accumulate dust. The location still makes a lot of sense, especially for rail as it will eliminate that tonnage-limiting climb up the hill out of Picton, and improve both rail efficiency and trail-ransit times.

    BTW: Who’s electorate/s does Picton and the CB site ome under?

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  22. Komata (1,142 comments) says:

    Steve

    Re: the Cook Strait Bridge (if only) and ‘without the Maoris wanting compensation’

    Can you imagine the intertriabal fighting for a share of the profits? Waka at 30 paces anyone . . . ?

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  23. RRM (9,638 comments) says:

    Komata –

    I think they realized you could fuel a lot of ferries up for the Picton run with the money it would cost to build a new ferry terminal and all the associated wharves, breakwaters etc at CB.

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  24. RRM (9,638 comments) says:

    And a Cook Strait bridge – why not, it’s not as though the water’s very deep, it’s not as though the 10m+ ocean rollers would disrupt construction much.

    Why stop there though, in a few years we could have starships ferrying us to and fro across the strait at warp nine…

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