Trust proposes high-speed ferry terminal

Success! Mahurangi River Restoration Trust members and supporters celebrate funding to dredge the Mahurangi River. From left, Steve Burrett, Peter Thompson, Hugh Gladwell, Murray Chapman, Kathryn Ashworth and Marja Lubeck.

Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, left, hears Peter Thompson’s vision for transport on the Mahurangi River.Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis, left, hears Peter Thompson’s vision for transport on the Mahurangi River.

The Mahurangi River Restoration Trust, buoyed by the Government’s recent announcement to provide $9 million to clean up the Mahurangi River, is already thinking about the next stage.

The Trust wants to establish a $7 million harbour precinct on the river for a boating and ferry terminal, which would provide a transport link between Auckland and north Rodney.

They propose to build the precinct on 18ha of Crown land within an inlet between the end of Hamilton Road and the end of Dawson Road in Snells Beach.

Known as plot 217, it was once reclaimed land used for farming before flood gates were opened, re-submerging it.

The Trust proposes that some of the silt removed from the river as part of the restoration project could be used to build up the land.

The Trust, along with members of One Warkworth Business Association, met with Labour Party deputy leader and Te Tai Tokerau MP Kelvin Davis last week.

They explained that a ferry terminal in Warkworth would open opportunities for the whole district.

One Warkworth committee member Susan Vize told Mr Davis that cruise ship tours didn’t venture into Mahurangi, despite its tourism opportunities, because of traffic congestion on State Highway 1.

She said a high-speed ferry from the cruise terminal in the CBD would allow tourists to visit Te Ao Marama in Te Hana for a cultural experience in just over an hour – much faster than having them travel to Rotorua.

River Restoration Trust member Peter Thompson envisioned a high-speed electric hydrofoiling catamaran ferry travelling at 35 knots. This would take 45 minutes to reach central Auckland.

“Imagine commuters and university students being able to take the ferry from Snells Beach and arrive right in the centre of the city,” he said.

Mr Thompson said at this stage the Trust was only appealing to the Government to consider providing $250,000 for the consent process, so that plans could be put in place.

Looking to the future, a subsequent phase of the project could include developing walking and cycling paths along the Mahurangi River between Warkworth and Snells Beach.

Last week, the Ministry of Environment awarded the Mahurangi River Restoration Trust $4.06 million to finish dredging the Mahurangi River.

A further $5 million was awarded to Auckland Council for riparian planting and fencing to prevent sediment building up in the river again. The government is hoping that the projects will create 105 new jobs.

Trust board member Steve Burrett expects the dredging will be finished by October 2021. It is anticipated that a dredged river will reap a host of environmental, recreational and economic benefits for years to come.

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