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Access to the Hunter River, a tributary of Lake Hawea, is set to be resolved at a meeting of the Queenstown Lakes District Council next week, QLDC corporate and regulatory general manager Roger Taylor said.
“There has been a longstanding and complex issue around access for motorised craft which is governed both by the Council’s District Plan and its Waterways Navigation and Safety Bylaw,” Mr Taylor said.
In short, under the existing regime the river was closed to any vessel from May to October and was open to vessels travelling under five knots in the remaining six months of the year.
“The issue being that the five knot limit effectively precludes any safe navigation of the Hunter River by jet boat, it’s simply not a river that can be travelled on at a low rate of knots,” Mr Taylor said. The Hunter River was a substantial, fast flowing and in places braided waterway.
Under the Local Government Act the Council was obligated to review all bylaws, including the waterways bylaw.
“The Hunter River access issue rekindled as a result of consultation on the Waterways Bylaw, the opportunity was taken to engage in wider consultation,” Mr Taylor said.
In February the Wanaka Community Board recommended to the hearing panel that the five knot limit should remain.
“The panel has had to consider all issues and weigh the issue of safety versus amenity. With the fullness of information available to it, the panel is recommending to the Council that the five knot speed limit be uplifted,’ Mr Taylor said.
The recommended revisions to the bylaw would be considered by the full Council at Tuesday’s meeting.
“Effectively if the Council chooses to adopt the recommendations then the Hunter River will be able to be safely accessed by non-commercial, recreational jet boaters from 1 November to 30 April,” Mr Taylor said.
If adopted, the Council would be asking recreational and commercial anglers and recreational jet boaters to share the resource as already occurred on other rivers in the district.