One of the most established tourism companies in Queenstown says it will not be forced to cut staff or close after being ordered to pay $320,500 in costs by the Environment Court.

The costs arose as a result of Kawarau Jet and associated company Clearwater Pursuits Ltd having waged a three-year battle against a decision by Queenstown Lakes District Council to grant consent to Queenstown Water Taxis Ltd to operate commercial jetboats on Lake Wakatipu and the Kawarau River.

On Wednesday the decision of Judge Laurie Newhook, of Auckland, stipulated that Kawarau Jet was to pay $187,500 to rival Water Taxis, operating as Thunder Jet, and $133,000 to the Queenstown Lakes District Council.

Kawarau Jet co-director Shaun Kelly said yesterday the 51-year-old tourism mainstay would have to work through the best way it could.


"It's a lot of money, it is significant, but we'll carry on through okay," Kelly said.

Kawarau Jet had opposed the consent on grounds of river safety and radio communication compatibility.

However, Judge Newhook said the court had the impression Kawarau Jet's "conduct and refusal to co-operate remained motivated by trade competition", in his critical decision.

The judge said the case by Kawarau Jet was "characterised by evidence that lacked accuracy and credibility".

Kelly said although he had not yet read the decision in detail, there were regrets about how the case was handled - but "that's water under the bridge".

Kelly said the relationship between the two companies on the water was "totally amicable" and they had to work together.

Water Taxis co-director Neville Kelly said he was pleased with the outcome, although they were still out of pocket for earlier commissioner hearings.

"We just move on now. We've got consent for four boats and we're up to 34 trips a day and business is just getting better and better.


"There's no issues with radio ... and there's never been an issue with safety. If there was, I wouldn't be doing it."

Council spokeswoman Meaghan Miller said yesterday: "Clearly we're pleased with the decision. The costs awarded were the costs that we sought."

Asked if Kawarau Jet would appeal against the costs decision, Kelly said it was a matter for the board to discuss and members were out of town.