The view from the top of Fringed Hill where the proposed gondola will sit. Photo: Tim Skinner.

Gondola project gets iwi approval


A bold project to build a gondola up a popular Nelson mountainbike track has headed to the next stage with a new company taking over to progress a study into its feasibility.

On Monday chief executive of Koata Ltd, Ngāti Koata’s commercial arm, was announced as the chair of a new company – Nelson Adventure Park Ltd.

Hemi Toia will oversee the efforts for the gondola project which will sit on Ngati Koata land.

“The gondola project team presented their vision to us at the end of last year,” Hemi says. “We could see the potential for such a project as an important asset for Ngāti Koata and the region, so we were pleased to join the team. ”

“The gondola would become an important part of the city’s identity, presenting to the world an incredibly beautiful experience – there are unequalled sea and mountain views at the top.”

The gondola will be about 1.5 kilometres and climb to 550 metres above sea level on Fringed Hill.

“The gondola is an attraction we envisage would increase the nights spent in the city, across the whole year, as it is a unique reason to visit and stay longer,” Hemi says. “The gondola provides an appealing attraction cityside to add to travel itineraries.

The project will look to target mountainbikers as well as walkers.

Ngāti Koata will buy back its lease from Tasman Pine, which leases the land for forestry.

Nelson City Council gave $50,000 to the project in 2016 and this year put up a further $50,000.

One of the project’s founders Jo Rainey says it is fantastic to have Ngati Koata involved in progressing the feasibility study.

“We are very pleased to have the land owner involved as we move through the current stage of feasibility work, as we have a shared vision for what we are trying to achieve.”

The feasibility study will include work such as the development of a master plan, survey of the site, traffic report, geotechnical study, architectural proposals, and key financial analysis.

Hemi says there is still a way to go until he can confirm that the gondola will definitely go ahead.

“But, we are well into the journey and we look forward to having more clarity when the feasibility study is finished early next year.”