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Skyline Enterprises to advance investigations for a Franz Josef Glacier gondola

Skyline Enterprises to advance investigations for a Franz Josef Glacier gondola

September 13, 2016. For immediate release

Leading New Zealand tourism company Skyline Enterprises has embarked on an investigation into the development of a gondola system to view the Franz Josef Glacier.

Following discussions with the Department of Conservation and other parties, the company will now fully study the installation of a gondola in order to make public access to the glacier easier and more affordable.

As owner of resident helicopter tourism operations based at Franz and Fox on the West Coast, Skyline is well aware of the changes to the glaciers, which significantly limit public access.

“The Franz Josef Glacier was in a state of advance until 2008 when it began retreating. Following a spectacular collapse of the terminal face in 2012, it is now only accessible by helicopter to land and walk on the Glacier,” Skyline Enterprises Chairman Mark Quickfall says.

“This prevents many visitors from experiencing the Glacier up close – outside of viewing from the base – unless they take a flight, which is not always an option due to weather conditions and cost.”

The investigation will take into account a number of important factors and is dependent on satisfying considerations including environmental mitigation, plus technical and economic feasibility. Skyline will consult a wide range of stakeholders in this regard, including Te Runanga o Makaawhio, Ngai Tahu, Franz Josef Community Council, West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board, Westland District Council, alpine groups, recreational users and all other relevant parties.

“Investigations, planning, consultation and securing support from a wide range of stakeholders will determine if the potential installation of the Gondola is realistic. This will take time, commitment and patience,” Mr Quickfall explains.

The positive flow-on effect to the Franz Josef and West Coast communities and the New Zealand economy, balanced against the environmental impacts, will be fully measured.

“Should the positives outweigh the negatives, Skyline believes this project will prove to be an iconic addition to the Glacier Country experience. It will provide a unique attraction encouraging visitors to stop over and spend more time in Glacier Country to truly experience the glaciers,” Skyline Director Grant Hensman says.

The gondola system would run adjacent to and above the Glacier. The towers would be anchored to land and rock, not ice. Interpretation of glaciers and surrounds will be a key component of the concept. Similar interpretation projects have been successfully designed and built in sensitive areas globally.

Skyline will continue to engage with the Department of Conservation on the Westland National Park Management Review to determine if the gondola system can be permitted, should all environmental issues be satisfied.

Until significant progress has been made with the technical and economic viability, and further engagement with the Department of Conservation, local runanga and conservation board, Skyline is not in a position to provide detailed information.

Skyline will be inviting interested parties to register their interest, allowing them to be kept informed on progress. Information sessions will also be held in Franz Josef in October.


Photo caption: A Glacier Helicopters chopper landing on Franz Josef Glacier

For more information, please contact:
Skyline Enterprises Chairman Mark Quickfall – +64 27 433 6576,
Skyline Enterprises Director Grant Hensman – +64 27 432 5628

About Skyline Enterprises
Skyline Enterprises is a pioneering New Zealand-owned company that owns and operates a diverse range of businesses: gondola, luge and related food and beverage operations; international luge operations, adventure, aviation and marine activities; casino and entertainment operations; accommodation businesses and ownership and rental of Queenstown commercial properties.  Established in 1966, Skyline Enterprises is based in Queenstown with operations throughout New Zealand and internationally in Canada, Singapore and South Korea.

Celia Crosbie
Written by Celia Crosbie
Celia is an award-winning former journalist who has worked for newspapers and radio stations in New Zealand and magazines in the United Kingdom. She has worked in public relations in both NZ and London. Celia also specialises in digital media strategy and website copywriting for SEO.