Govt investigating Clifford Bay sea terminal

  • Steven Joyce

The government has asked transport officials to investigate the use of Clifford Bay in Marlborough as a new sea freight terminal to improve links between major cities in the North and South Islands, and as a further catalyst for South Island economic growth.

Transport Minister Steven Joyce says if Clifford Bay is found to be viable, its development would have the effect of bringing Christchurch closer to both Auckland and Wellington.

The Ministry of Transport evaluation will look at a number of scenarios using Clifford Bay as an operational base across freight, vehicle and passenger transport modes.

“Clifford Bay has been floated a number of times in the past. A thorough investigation will evaluate the potential it has to add to the New Zealand growth story”.

A Clifford Bay terminal would cut 30 minutes off the ferry trip between North and South Islands. The road trip from Wellington to Christchurch would be 50 minutes shorter and the same rail journey would reduce by 80 minutes. The journey between Auckland and Christchurch would also benefit by those time savings.

Mr Joyce says if Clifford Bay is found to be a viable option, the new terminal could provide a real boost to Christchurch’s recovery in the longer term.

KiwiRail has done some preliminary analysis of using Clifford Bay as a base for ferry operations. The Ministry of Transport’s (MoT) high level evaluation will consider the economic, environmental and social impacts of using Clifford Bay from a national perspective.

The MoT study is expected to take two months to complete with any further announcements made towards the end of the year.

The aim of the MoT study is to provide a high-level, independent view of the options to develop a further sea terminal for Cook Strait ferry traffic, and to understand the wider costs and benefits to the national economy.

Mr Joyce said that if the study was positive, Clifford Bay could be a prime candidate for a PPP. “KiwiRail would not have the resources on its own to build and operate the facility. It’s the sort of facility that could provide a steady long term revenue stream to infrastructure investors.”

If Clifford Bay was commissioned as a base for ferry operations, it would take an estimated two and a half years to build the terminal and land infrastructure following funding and consent processes.