The Government is moving ahead with the next step for a potential new ferry terminal in the South Island.
Transport Minister Gerry Brownlee says a business case for building the terminal at Marlborough's Clifford Bay is strong enough to warrant further investigation.
Mr Brownlee says it is estimated that a new ferry terminal at Clifford Bay in the South Island would cost about $422 million.
He says it would allow the use of larger ships to cross the Cook Strait and reduce the journey time between Wellington and Christchurch by 80 minutes for ferry and road transport. Ferry and rail travel time would be reduced by 110 minutes.
However, Mr Brownlee says many complex issues need to be worked out before a decision is made, including whether it would be profitable for operators running and using the terminal.
Officials will report back to the Government with their analysis by the end of April next year and if it goes ahead, it will be an eight-year project. The minister says a new terminal could rewrite the transport map for the country.
Prime Minister John Key says the Marlborough Sounds is becoming increasingly challenging due to speed restrictions, and if the analysis finds that the Clifford Bay terminal should be built moving ferries away from Picton won't have a massive impact.
Mr Key says not a lot of activity is driven off the boats as most people leave the town quite quickly.