Whitianga gets new ferry
Whitianga gets new ferry as Ferry Landing wharf upgrade continues
The latest addition to the Whitianga Ferries fleet went into service this week after she was officially launched last weekend.
Whitianga Ferries Ltd owner Fred Acke christened the new vessel Diana Rose in honour of his mother.
After several years without increase, the cost of crossing Whitianga harbour on the ferry service is finally going up.
The increase doesn't affect casual fares, which remain at $6 return for adults and $4 for children.
"It adds up to an increase of 50 cents a trip for adults and 25 cents for children, including GST," says Mr Acke.
Concession cards for adults are now $80 and $50 for children for 40 crossings.
The company operates under a licence from Thames-Coromandel District Council, which owns and maintains the docks at Whitianga and Ferry Landing that the boats operate from.
TCDC raised the cost of the licence considerably prior to Mr Acke purchasing Whitianga Ferries in November 2014. It was mutually agreed that the fares would increase alongside improvements being made to the ferry service.
Mr Acke undertook to build a new ferry to replace the Stella B. The Diana Rose has 63 seats, is 12 metres long, and can take more passengers in greater comfort across the harbour. She also sits flush to the dock for easy wheelchair, cycle and pram access
The design of the Diana Rose means passengers can get on and off more quickly, speeding up turn-around time and improving overall service.
The new boat is a considerable investment and the fare increase will help Mr Acke meet some of his higher overheads.
"All the money raised from the ferry licence and from other Whitianga Harbour-related fees (such as trailer boat parking and boat ramp fees) goes entirely toward maintaining and developing harbour facilities, so this money stays in the community," says Sam Marshall, TCDC's Area Manager for Mercury Bay.
Ferry Landing upgrade
Meanwhile, work to upgrade the old stone wharf at Ferry Landing is continuing.
The wharf is one of the oldest working stone wharves in the southern hemisphere and is classified as a Grade One structure by Heritage New Zealand.
Stones that had fallen from the structure into the harbour were recovered in April and the plan is to use these to restore the wharf.
Heritage New Zealand is currently signing off on the refurbishment plan and the stone masons hope to begin work in October and be finished before Christmas.
The scope of the second stage of the project - including the paving, lighting and other improvements to the area - is being finalised by architectural designers.