4 Nov 2016

Push for Queenstown infrastructure as work on road begins

9:22 am on 4 November 2016

Work is finally starting on a $27 million road that means Queenstown residents can bypass the town's notorious traffic jam spot.

Queenstown by Lake Wakatipu

Queenstown by Lake Wakatipu Photo: 123RF

When Hawthorne Drive is finished it will mean a faster drive from the suburb of Frankton to the airport and a major shopping centre.

Queenstown's population has grown by just over 7 percent in the last year and the extra people were putting pressure on the resort town's already strained infrastructure.

Queenstown Lakes district had 32,000 residents, not including the thousands of tourists visiting each week.

Newly-elected mayor Jim Boult said coping with that growth was now an urgent priority.

"I don't think we can stop people wanting to move here, or coming to holiday here, but I want infrastructure in the town to be in place before that growth occurs so we don't get the traffic and transport issues that we've been experiencing over the past couple of years," he said.

Mr Boult denied the resort had turned into a tale of two towns, with tourists using the lakeside village and locals staying well clear at Frankton.

However, he acknowledged some kind of subsidised public transport was needed to draw locals into the village.

What form that would take was not clear, but it would be "affordable, reliable and so good that people will want to ride on it", he said.

Downtown Queenstown spokesperson Steve Wilde said the resort's booming population had hit long-term residents the hardest.

"It's been difficult for local people, particularly long-term locals to watch this. They're seeing the original reasons why they perhaps came to live in this area, be eroded."

The government needed to get stuck in to help alleviate Queenstown's growing pains or risk turning off international visitors, Mr Wilde said.

"If Queenstown doesn't work, the entire New Zealand tourism industry is in jeopardy, because it's the images of Queenstown that are sent around the world to sell the whole country's proposition."

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