Clifford Bay

March 9th, 2013 at 11:00 am by David Farrar

spoke this week to the Marlborough Chamber of Commerce on the possibility of the terminal for the Interislander ferries moving from Picton to . He stressed no decision has been made, but his speech was all about the benefits of doing so and suggests that a positive decision is likely. Some extracts:

By bringing travel times down between our major population centres, we could increase trade between the two islands and in doing so increase economic prosperity.

We have made no decisions, but information to date has suggested we need to further test the viability.

Clearly any benefits must be weighed against the cost of developing and operating a port.

It would need to be a commercially viable and sustainable operation.

Decreased travel times is good for trade and tourism.

By way of comparison a Clifford Bay terminal would cut 30 minutes off the ferry trip between North and South Islands.

The road trip from Wellington to Christchurch would be 50 minutes shorter and the same rail journey would reduce by 80 minutes.

So a road trip would be 80 minutes quicker and rail would be 110 minutes quicker – almost two hours. Knocking 80 minutes off a 480 minute journey is 15% improvement – very significant.

Because of the steep terrain between Picton and Clifford bay, there would be a one-third reduction in fuel burnt when transporting freight by rail to Christchurch.

The shorter ferry journey would mean ships could be more productive, making more journeys.

Better for the environment also.

Speed restrictions through the Marlborough Sounds limit the number of return sailings ferries can make each day.

Two of the ferries have ‘grandfathered’ speeds – meaning they do not have speed restrictions – and can complete three return trips a day.

That fleet is nearing the end of its economic life and will need expensive replacements.

And replacements are going to be harder to find, as internationally rail ferries are rapidly falling out of favour with operators.

Larger, faster ships are becoming the norm.

But if the route stays the same those replacement ferries will also be speed restricted.

These restrictions affect operating efficiency and cost, and any potential tightening of the speed restrictions will further constrain ferry services.

If you can’t get as many sailings out of the fleet, more ships will be need to provide the same capacity.

And that comes at a high cost.

That suggests that Picton is just not very viable in the long-term.

I think it is clear the Government would like a new terminal at Clifford Bay. The challenge is who builds is, and for how much.

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42 Responses to “Clifford Bay”

  1. Mighty_Kites (85 comments) says:

    If it gets moved to Clifford Bay, get ready for a lot more cancellations due to weather…

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  2. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    Back the truck up a bit.
    There is nothing to say that an new ferry couldn’t be designed in such a way that there is reduced wash at high speeds, which would allow it to travel quicker through the sounds. Just because most ferries in the world operate in open waters where this isn’t an issue doesn’t mean that New Zealand ferries wouldn’t be able to ask for a design that reduces wash.

    If the ferries are starting to get old how is that the problem of the government? I thought the ferries were privately owned? If they’re not they certainly should be, since we don’t like the government competing private enterprise, which they certainly do over that route.

    Has anyone considered the impact on Picton if the ferries were moved?

    Also will there be an option for another operator to use the existing facilities at Picton to compete with the new terminal? If the government is building a new terminal they should sell, not dismantle, the old one. The article doesn’t state whether there are problems with the terminal at Picton, only the fleet of boats, and from my last visit I wouldn’t say there is any particular problem with it. If the existing port was kept, the South Island port of entry would not be a bottleneck to trade (even if it wasn’t already) since the capacity of a new terminal would be in addition to the existing capacity.

    I’m not saying it’s a bad thing to move the facility, but it must be thought through first.

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  3. RF (1,454 comments) says:

    As one who has used this service a number of times…. Its got my vote. The sooner the better !!!!

    Who knows in 80 years we could have a tunnel under Cook Straight.

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  4. peterwn (3,309 comments) says:

    Perhaps the Government could purchase the land and put in resource consents via regulation. The Government could call tenders for someone to design, build and operate it, with things slanted towards NZ investors. However Maersk or similar may need to be accepted as a cornerstone shareholder since Mearsk for example is experienced in port and terminal construction and operation. A regulatory scheme would need to be worked out for investor certainity. It should be open for any operator to use, and the successful tenderer would be granted a 30-50 year lease.

    As far as ‘rail’ ferries are concerned – the issue is more getting containers between the two islands rather than getting rail wagons between the two islands. Keeping them on the wagons is one option, but there may be a better solution.

    If Picton wants to keep the ferries the speed restrictions need to ‘give’ – those who do not like fast ferries can always use the Kenepuru Sound for recreation, retreat for writing poetry, etc.

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  5. iMP (2,422 comments) says:

    Picton can reposition itself as a holiday and tourist resort, much like Hanmer, half way between the new Ferry and Nelson, and as gateway to the Marlb. Sounds, if it has strong visionary leadership. It has many physical assets that could be enhanced.

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  6. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    RF – I highly doubt that there will ever be a tunnel, since Cook Strait is a pretty deep piece of water. A pontoon bridge might be on the cards, however.

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  7. peterwn (3,309 comments) says:

    RF – re tunnel under Cook Strait. the ‘Chunnel’ was a financial disaster for the original investors, despite reasonably beneign tunneling conditions. No way will a Cook Strait tunnel stack up financially even in 80 years time.

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  8. gazzmaniac (2,307 comments) says:

    iMP – so too bad for the people whose businesses serve the people who travel on the ferry then?

    RF – forgot to mention the seismic risk of having a major undersea tunnel like that straddling a major tectonic plate boundary.

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  9. Harriet (5,132 comments) says:

    “…..The challenge is who builds, and for how much….”

    “….The road trip from Wellington to Christchurch would be 50 minutes shorter and the same rail journey would reduce by 80 minutes….”

    “….So a road trip would be 80 minutes quicker and rail would be 110 minutes quicker – almost two hours. Knocking 80 minutes off a 480 minute journey is 15% improvement – very significant….”

    “….Because of the steep terrain between Picton and Clifford bay, there would be a one-third reduction in fuel burnt when transporting freight by rail to Christchurch….”

    I can see where this is all leading DPF:

    To the next usual government announcement:

    The money ‘saved by the users’ -[who in the private sector are still called customers] will ‘save money’ ‘from sailing’, but a ‘small increase’ ‘levied’ on ‘fares’ will see that ‘only the users will pay’ for the ‘essential and much needed’ [essential and much needed are the same, but sound more ‘researched’] ‘terminal'[wharf] that is ‘needed’ by ‘all’ including ‘much needed tourists’. ‘This government’ has ‘funded’ a ‘full cost analysis’ and the ‘taxpayers’, ‘public’, ‘commercial operators’ and the ‘NZ economy’ will ‘only benefit’ from this ‘much needed’ ‘public asset’, ‘employment’……

    Either way it will cost what the market wants to build it for…..and the market customers will, one way or another, pay for it…but we should never let the facts of a market economy, get in the way of political party bullshit. :cool:

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  10. Ross12 (1,456 comments) says:

    If the argument is based on trade between the islands ( ie freight) , why build another port ? Just get a couple of decently designed boats to freight directly between Wellington and Lyttleton. Keep the trucks off the road. The rail line down the coast has number of limitations.
    The cost of the consultants involved in a new port would probably pay for at least one boat.

    The existing ferries could be “rationalised” to be just passenger / car ferries and Picton remains their port.

    [DPF: Read the speech. It used to be ferry all the way but this is longer and costlier]

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  11. MD (62 comments) says:

    @gazzmaniac The “Interislander” ferries are part of KiwiRail, which was repurchased by a previous government. There are competing privately owned ferries run by Bluebridge (but they don’t carry the rail wagons). The issue with Pciton has always been the council and various greenies wanting to impose every more restrictive conditions on the ferries, if Picton loses the ferry terminal this will be the primary reason for it, so if you’ve built a business in Picton based on the Ferry traffic, then you’ve known for decades it was under threat from the dictates of the council and greenies. There is no one else to blame. This has been going on for decades, and in the end this is what killed the fast ferry service.

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  12. RF (1,454 comments) says:

    gazzmaniac 11.38am. 11.41am

    peterwin 11.38am

    OK points taken. I stand corrected .. too much early morning coffee however I still like the idea of Clifford Bay.

    I was watching a doco on TV recently and saw them building a great looking bridge in China. Seemed to go for miles over the sea. I guess with Cook Straight being subjected to rough seas plus sitting on a fault line our options are limited.

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  13. thor42 (971 comments) says:

    The terminal *has* to be moved to Clifford Bay. The economics are just too good to be ignored. Shorter trip, faster ferries (not having to worry about wash).

    As for Picton, it will survive. It can position itself as the gateway to the Sounds (which it already is and will always be).

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  14. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    Picton can reposition itself as a holiday and tourist resort, much like Hanmer, half way between the new Ferry and Nelson, and as gateway to the Marlb. Sounds, if it has strong visionary leadership. It has many physical assets that could be enhanced.

    While it is a nice area, there is no way that Picton would have any value as a destination ‘on the way’ to Nelson from the proposed new terminal, anyone that has driven between Picton and Havelock will know exactly what I am talking about.

    The proposed new sea route will not have any appeal for tourists as a journey in it’s own right, how can you compare a straight line journey across open (rough) water to a cruise through the Marlborough sounds?

    As far as saving time for tourists and freight, that relates to Christchurch and the east coast only, any freight trucks or tourists heading to the Nelson area will likely have an increase in time compared to the status quo. Has anyone actually looked at a map of where cloudy bay actually is?
    They will also get off the ferry near a vast salt works plant surrounded by brown bleak looking landscape, hardly a great introduction to the South island as compared to Picton.

    This proposal has merit for rail traffic and road freight to Christchurch only, it has a significant detrimental effect for tourism.

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  15. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    Sorry, “cloudy bay” = ‘Clifford bay’ :)

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  16. Lance (2,715 comments) says:

    Yea
    Picton commerce will die but the vociferous waterfront batch owners in the sounds will be happy (echoes of Western Springs).

    The new location sounds sensible as well.

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  17. Ross12 (1,456 comments) says:

    [DPF: Read the speech. It used to be ferry all the way but this is longer and costlier]

    The speech mentions what it used to be not what it could be with more modern vessels. If it was an overnight service what has been lost ?
    If more freight traffic is anticipated , how long will the rail line last ? In places it is nearly in the sea now. Can the road withstand substantially more traffic without a huge investment in upgrading especially at the northern end.
    I’m not arguing for the protection of Picton. I just think there should be abit more forward thinking on the issue and not just looking at a few hours on the travel time.

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  18. southtop (266 comments) says:

    So the retired woodwork teacher wants to help his ChCh mates no problem however I await the impact report, not only on Picton/Marlborough but also nelson/tasman.
    The greater Nelson region is already gods waiting room. Maybe the illustrious reborn Minister Nick could get the woodwork teacher to build a decent road between Nelson and Marlborough, say over the Mangatapou between Nelson and Pelorous, a road through the Rainbow to connect Nelson and Canterbury rather than the elongated Lewis Pass and a lengthened runway.
    Apart from some issues with Brethren children (when he was the Tasman MP) I can’t think of a lot that Nick4Nelson has done for Nelson. Very happy to be shown otherwise.

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  19. kiwi in america (2,511 comments) says:

    Having made the trip from Chch to Picton and the ferry to Wellington and back more times than I care to remember, I look forward to the day when Clifford Bay is a reality.

    Gazzmaniac
    Having a custom build ferry to meet the roll on/roll off rail requirements AND be economical in the environmentalist enforced Sounds slowdown is a recipe for a very costly new ferry service. Added to the freight costs and time delays inherent in the longer drive to Picton and the enforced Sounds slowdown, the cost benefit analysis versus an off-the-shelf high speed more efficient ferry operating from Clifford Bay is likely to be a no brainer.

    Harriet
    Mocking the language of the market doesn’t change the economic realities Brownlee pointed out. It doesn’t take an MBA to understand the marginal transport and time delay cost differences. The extent to which the new terminal costs can be amortized over sufficient time from normal freight transfer and storage charges and the extent of any central government capital cost injection are all issues that will form part of the feasibilty he refers to. There are any number of real world examples that can be examined to provide a rigorous model to measure this proposal up against the status quo.

    Picton will suffer – there is just no getting around this. It is a gorgeous spot and will continue to be a destination in its own right for the many who holiday in the Sounds and I’m sure a marketing subsidy will be part of the package offered to businesses. That may assist in growing destination tourism to the area but the economic impact of losing the port, its workers and the spending of the ferry passengers will leave a hole. Everyone said Puhoi would die once the Southern Motorway was extended past. The dairies selling the famous huge ice creams there seemed just as busy when I stopped at 10am on a weekday 2 months ago as I recall in the halcyon days when SH 1 went through the village.

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  20. kiwi in america (2,511 comments) says:

    Ross12
    The debate of road/rail to Picton versus all ferry freight on the Maori/Wahine services Lyttelton to Wellington was thoroughly hashed out on the late 60’s to mid 70’s. The loss of the Wahine only hastened the inevitable.

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  21. Ross12 (1,456 comments) says:

    kiwi in america

    I thought we were now in 2013. Are you seriously suggesting that conclusions arrived at in the 1960s and 70s on an issue still stand today.

    I have no vested interest in any of this but if you going to make a major investment in new infrastructure then you have to look forward with all the new technological possibilities. ( If an up to date report has been prepared on the a ferry freight service direct to Lyttleton and why it is not on, then I’d be happy to read it)

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  22. Chuck Bird (4,924 comments) says:

    KIA, there were not so many container trucks during that time. The is no doubt a lot of other factors have changed as well.

    Does anyone recall how the system worked for trucks back then? Did the drivers sleep on the ferry or did a different driver pick up the truck?

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  23. G (82 comments) says:

    The thing that strikes me is that these are ferry to ferry times. What if the faster catamarans were brought back? Would it be roughly an hour trip?

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  24. kiwi in america (2,511 comments) says:

    Ross12 and Chuck Bird
    This from NZ History on line http://www.nzhistory.net.nz/culture/lyttelton-wellington-ferries/end-of-the-line
    “The Union Steam Ship Company responded by ordering a bigger, better Wahine – the second Rangatira, which entered service in 1972 – but times had changed. The National Airways Corporation’s Boeing 737 and Friendship aircraft now made flying more convenient and increasingly more affordable, grabbing the business travellers who were the bedrock customers. For those wanting to travel with their cars, the Picton–Wellington ferries offered a shorter, cheaper crossing. The long overnight voyage attracted fewer people, and soaring crew costs only added to the Rangatira’s problems.” The Encyclopedia of NZ reports in a similar vein http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/ferries/page-3. You can’t ask the taxpayers to fund a loss making service that flies in the face of consumer demand simply because it might be nostalgic. Private sector freight shippers offer ample cargo space from Lyttelton to Wellington so we are talking about the passenger ferry operation.

    What about today’s even cheaper and more frequent air travel, easier to drive more efficient cars and trucks and a better road from Christchurch to Picton makes a Lyttelton – Wellington ferry any more feasible than 40 years ago? If it was feasible it would’ve been done by now or at least seriously debated. How many businesses and consumer groups are clamouring for this service? The only one I could find was a shipping company owner who has 40% of the Picton freight market who has a vested interest in distracting attention from Clifford Bay by raising a Lyttelton ferry red herring.

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  25. Harriet (5,132 comments) says:

    kiwi in America.

    The government will still have to pay market rates to build it and the customers will still have to eventually pay for that cost.
    That’s it.
    All anyone expects is that it is warranted, and it’s future operation is feasable without public funding[as it is a government asset and the public hate ‘proping up what’s not usefull’.].

    I’m not for or against it, as I live in Australia. But why the government in NZ goes on and on and on about everything other than ‘market reality’ is fucken beyond me.

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  26. Johnboy (17,007 comments) says:

    Never forget that when the Green/Labouring/UncleTomCobbleyandAll party take over the reins of power, coastal shipping will be high on their agenda, even if it is powered by sail/galley slaves.

    If it can force the car driving freemen of New Zealand out of their vehicles it will be done! :)

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  27. UrbanNeocolonialist (310 comments) says:

    Clifford Bay wouldn’t help increase number of sailings – Arahura currently takes 4 hours per trip 6 sailings per day, decrease that by 30 minutes and you can’t even fit in one more sailing a day.

    It would improve the economics of a fast ferry. Particularly if there were also a new ferry terminal put in in Island or Owhiro bay as well as clifford bay. That would halve the distance compared to current route and would reduce trip time to 60 minutes at typical fast ferry 37knots. Fuel costs then end up at just $15 per tonne rather than $30 they are currently for a fast ferry and nearly halve the operating cost for the trip (a very green solution too as it greatly reduces the fuel burn). That would make it economically viable to run a fast ferry with frequent sailings even for freight trucks.

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  28. Viking2 (11,571 comments) says:

    Apart from some issues with Brethren children (when he was the Tasman MP) I can’t think of a lot that Nick4Nelson has done (for Nelson.) New Zealand. Very happy to be shown otherwise.

    there fixed that.

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  29. BeaB (2,148 comments) says:

    southtop
    Interesting you join Winston Peters, the Greens and Labour in sneering at Brownlee because he was once a woodwork teacher at St Bede’s College.

    I didn’t realise teaching was such a contemptible job to the Left. In fact, most of the tech teachers I taught with worked wonders with kids, often boys, who achieved little anywhere else in the school and went on to good careers in the trades.

    Correct me if I am wrong, but I think Brownlee has been an MP (with a resounding majority) and Minister of the Crown much longer than he was a teacher or owner of a family construction company. I guess that is hilarious too and worthy of a good sneer.

    As for Nelson and Marlborough, there are few who would today build all the roads where they are now. Sometimes we are stuck with our history. Sometimes we are liberated by earthquakes and alternatives like Clifford Bay.

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  30. Johnboy (17,007 comments) says:

    Well said BeaB.

    Besides, Gerry could never get close enough to a workbench these days to teach the sprogs how to cut a mitre joint. :)

    The left never learn to “move on” despite it being Aunty Helens favourite phrase! :)

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  31. peterwn (3,309 comments) says:

    Harriet – It is worth building it an increase in ferry fares covers the interest (at say 10%) and repayment of the cost of the new terminal over a 40 year or so period. The case does not seem to stack up on this basis otherwise it would probably have happened by now. It would seem if savings of fuel and driving time were factored in, it starts to look economic. Hence some Government support would be needed and could be in the form of:
    1. A straight out subsidy.
    2. Marginal increase in petrol prices and Road User Charges to cover part of the cost.
    3. A road ‘toll’ on vehicles carried on all inter-island ferries whether they use Picton or Clifford Bay.

    Some cost could be defrayed and the future of Picton helped to be assured by tendering off one casino licence for Picton.

    The Government had to take the initiative to get the original Interislander service running since the Union Company and other shipping lines considered roll-on/roll-off ships (especially with rail facilities) etc too commercially risky. Having the railway line to Picton and a harbour formation there was of assistance. Until 1962 you could not drive a car on an inter island ferry. You had to drive your car on to the wharf some hours before sailing and it was hoisted on board then parked up on board by an employee. It was only when the Interislander became a reality that Union ordered the Wahine (with drive-on) and had the Maori altered for drive-on. So most probably the Government considers some catylist is necessary to make Clifford Bay a reality.

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  32. Yogibear (372 comments) says:

    The issue with Clifford Bay is that the economics of the port are great (in terms of time saved times the value of time) but the financials are poor.

    New ports are expensive and there’ll need to be price increases to meet the cost. Here’s the kicker. It’s a free and reasonably unregulated market. If the Clifford Bay business model relies on Strait Shipping using the port, then there is no way any developer in their right mind should invest. Strait will do a deal with he Marlbrough Harbour Board, stay in Picton and offer a substantially lower cost service for struggling kiwi holiday makers and non-time sensitive freight (noting a truck on an Auckland-Chch run using Picton will still beat a train using Clifford Bay). At one in the same time they grab market share and put the skids even further under the Kiwirail turnaround plan (noting that Strait have a vested interest in maximising truck freight across the Strait).

    Clifford Bay only works if you regulate prices or regulate access to Picton.

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  33. Johnboy (17,007 comments) says:

    I wouldn’t buy shares in the PP that Clifford Bay may become! :)

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  34. southtop (266 comments) says:

    Bea given the history of the govt Brownlie is part of, he is so far to the left of my thoughts he is closing in on the last labour govt. happy to accept the crack at Gerry’s previous profession was probably a low blow however considering him philosophically right of centre is either sad or laughable. Although considering that the sheeple of NZ have been generally successfully taken in by the left it is understandable.
    As far as being stuck by our history hmmm, so changing the southern destination of the ferries?
    The Mangatapou is approx 15 kilometres, truck owners I have spoken would happily pay a toll to shorten that route especially if another 70-80 km is to be added to getting to the boats. tourists (usually in white road maggots) I’ve spoken to have alluded to the whangamoa and Rai Saddles as being as bad a road as they had come across in the South Island. Although probably hadn’t hit the Takaka Hill or West Coast as yet.
    I am simply concerned that a shift Of the ferries will see the wider Nelson region become a large version of Karamea….we’re on a road to nowhere.

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  35. duggledog (1,589 comments) says:

    BeaB at 3.31

    Well said! What’s wrong with being a bloody teacher of carpentry? Perhaps if more New Zealanders had more of a basic understanding of useful things like that they would be more use to themselves and the rest of the country.

    I daresay if some people concentrated on basic shit like – I don’t know – the fact that houses with no flashings on the windows, no eaves and flat roofs are going to fall down – we’d all be better off. I knew this when I was 12.

    Add basic economics into that, if you can’t afford to buy it don’t, and if it’s too good to be true then it needs to be avoided, well we’ve just saved the country all the leaky building carnage and SCF as well. Billions.

    BTW Jesus was a carpenter, left quite a legacy.

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  36. Viking2 (11,571 comments) says:

    BTW Jesus was a carpenter, left quite a legacy.

    Oh dear, and look what happened to him. these days they would use a nail gun so quicker and probably a bit less painful. Add a few more no more nails and he would never be removed. Mind you one would have to make sure it was properly treated pine. It would not be good to shove the cross up and have it rot off at the ground bringing a decaying corpse with it.

    Still a well trained Kiwi carpenter would know all that stuff would he not?

    As for the legacy, well we have the Catholic Church of course and we won’t linger on them, we have the Muslims and then we have about 1million other varieties of pious outfits spruicking the Sky Fairy whilst collecting much money from the gullible.

    Now that should just about destroy this thread for tonite. :lol:

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  37. V (750 comments) says:

    Viking2, I think the comparison ends here, you wouldn’t ger Brownlee up on a cross without heavy machinery, and nobody is likely to carry him through the streets either.

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  38. Positan (393 comments) says:

    Do the maths – the cost and the negative economic impact on Picton and the additional cost of transport to Nelson simply don’t stack up.

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  39. freemark (617 comments) says:

    Simple.. Island Bay to Clifford Bay becomes freight, maybe room for a few cars. Wgtn to Picton via Sounds remains scenic, I doubt many have an issue with another 30 mins in The Sounds. Or am I missing something?

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  40. freemark (617 comments) says:

    And get rid of the semen’s union..

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  41. emmess (1,433 comments) says:

    Picton is 25 minutes from Blenheim, the main town in the leading district with one of New Zealand’s fastest growing export industries
    Trust me, it won’t die.

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  42. Shunda barunda (2,985 comments) says:

    Simple.. Island Bay to Clifford Bay becomes freight, maybe room for a few cars. Wgtn to Picton via Sounds remains scenic, I doubt many have an issue with another 30 mins in The Sounds. Or am I missing something?

    How is splitting the current traffic in half going to be good for either port? It will almost certainly lead to an increase in cost for passengers.

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