Friday, 30 October 2020

WHITIANGA WEATHER

Tourist service hub proposed at Hahei Visitor Carpark.

A central meeting and ticketing point at the Hahei Visitor Carpark for the town’s tourism operators has received approval in principle from the Mercury Bay Community Board.

The idea was prompted by requests from numerous operators who would like to be able to sell tickets, provide information and pick-up and drop-off customers at the carpark. Thames-Coromandel District Council staff support the idea as it will reduce parking and traffic congestion in Hahei village and at reserves, which is major issue during the peak summer period.

Describing the proposal at the Community Board meeting on Wednesday last week, TCDC community facilities manager, Derek Thompson, said the concept of Hahei as a “walking village” would be enhanced with people stopping at the entrance to the village and continuing to Cathedral Cove or other attractions by walking or bus. “Having the tourist operators based at the carpark will enable council to impose conditions on its license operators at Hahei, requiring them to operate from the carpark and not allowing them to operate their ticket selling and park their customers’ cars at the reserves,” he said. “This would help to provide relief to the demand for parking at the beach. Comprehensive information would be provided to visitors at the carpark, enabling them to decide on the service they wish to use and taking them from that point.”

Responding to questions from several Community Board members, Mr Thompson said there were yet to be any formal discussions about potential design, but what was envisaged was something like two modernised containers with a small footprint which could be located in one corner of the carpark. The project would require resource consent and council favours being the holder of the consent as it could ensure a level playing field for all operators. An operator would be appointed via a tender process with the service contract ensuring all tourist operators are treated equally and there is no bias or favour to any one or any group of operators.

While the Community Board members saw the merits of the proposal, they postponed any decision in relation to a consent application pending further details from TCDC staff, particularly around how both the set-up and ongoing operational costs would be funded, and how the facility would be managed in the context of continuing growth.

The cost of the consent and planning advice is estimated to be between $3,250 and $3,750 plus GST and would be funded from the Community Facilities budget. A consent would take between two and three months to be processed and granted, and would require an independent commissioner to be engaged, meaning it is unlikely to be up and running ahead of this year’s peak summer season. The carpark has been operating since late 2016 and can now hold 385 cars and 25 campervans, and is the current pick-up and drop-off point for the park and ride shuttle to the Cathedral Cove track.

Pictured: Hahei from the air. 

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