A smooth, quiet emission-free ride from Whitianga to Auckland’s CBD in 30 minutes and costing around $30 might seem to be a futuristic fantasy. In fact, this could be a reality as early as 2025.
A New Zealand consortium has announced it will be purchasing a fleet of 25 Seagliders which will operate initially out of Auckland and Wellington. Delivery is expected around 2025. Seagliders are fully electric and will operate over the coastal waters of New Zealand. The craft is designed to initially move forward on its hull then as it gains speed, it foils much like an America's Cup yacht, then take off and fly at about 10m above the ocean.
“The New Zealand owners of the consortium have stated that a connection between Auckland and Whitianga is planned, said Councillor Denis Tegg, the Thames-Coromandel representative on Waikato Regional Council. “In interviews, they have said a 150km flight to Whangarei would take 30 minutes and cost around $30. Auckland to Whitianga is also around 150km, so a $30 fare is feasible to connect to Coromandel’s east coast.
“This will be a game-changer for coastal towns on the Coromandel Peninsula and is really exciting. Imagine being able to get to the Viaduct in central Auckland within 30 minutes for just $30, with zero climate emissions and avoiding a stressful car trip taking upwards of three hours.”
"Within a few years, we could potentially have Seaglider links to other Coromandel Peninsula towns such as Coromandel and Thames/Kopu, servicing the catchment in the eastern Waikato and northern Bay of Plenty.
“The craft is very quiet, so can be operated at night for freight transport without disturbing local residents... This is another huge opportunity for Thames-Coromandel businesses to quickly and cheaply move their goods to market.
“While these types of services might initially be run by commercial interests, there is also the potential for them to be operated as a public transport ‘ferry’ service. Operating costs for this craft are about one-eighth of those for a conventional aircraft, so they could eventually be a good fit for public transport.
“WRC has responsibility for coastal infrastructure like wharves and jetties, and for public transport, so council has to be nimble and flexible enough to plan for these exciting emerging technologies.”
Pictured: Denis Tegg, the Thames-Coromandel representative on Waikato Regional Council.