A Whanganui businessman has unveiled plans for a proposed ferry service and related harbour redevelopment.

Neville Johnson from Midwest Ferries Ltd has worked on a Whanganui-Motueka ferry service proposal for several years and yesterday said he wanted to work with the Whanganui District Council and the wider community to develop a harbour that suited as many people as possible and which optimised economic opportunities.

His plan includes paying for dredging, land reclamation and development of wharves for Midwest ferries as well as private and commercial craft belonging to other operators in exchange for free berthing rights.

"Following many meetings in recent months with council consultants and their ideas on port usage, we feel it is time for us to put the suggested plan for the Whanganui Port out to the public for their opinion and input so that what is being developed here meets with the approval of hopefully most users of the port," Mr Johnson said.


Midwest's proposal includes an offer to do all the necessary dredging to a target depth of seven metres and at an initial cost of $14 million, plus ongoing maintenance, land reclamation and wharf development.

"Item one (see graphic) is the first location that we would like to see our ferries come into the harbor and turn around and back into solid land for rear or front loading as required, which will be all reclaimed land from the area where the channel goes through," Mr Johnson said. Position two provides the ability to have a central wharf put in the future if required for further ferry berths.

"We will be reclaiming from dredgings all the dark brown land and building the parking area (five) where there will be a mixture of tar seal parking lots with some green strips to fill that area - about five hectares for future ferry development use as required." The sandbank and existing training wall out in front of the ferry berthing area will be removed.

The plan includes a three metre wide walkway (15) the length of the deflector wall on the river side to allow public access for fishing, swimming and walking. "We will extend the breakwater far enough that it will deflect most of the current off wharf one which will be an advantage to future users."

Midwest is also investigating a dry dock that should bring in vessel repair work, Mr Johnson said. Discussions with boat builder Q-West on this was ongoing.

Other plans included an administration building, cafe area for passenger and public use and possibly a maritime museum and marine equipment shop, where the old shed is now on wharf three.

A small boat and sporting clubs marina (10) had the potential to bring significant business and new ventures into the city, and needs to be planned and developed by all potential users, he said.

Development would be in stages.


Mr Johnson said discussions are underway with possible users and owners of the ferry service as to what type of service they would like to see and suitable sailing times.

He welcomed feedback on the proposal and said people could submit ideas via email info@njfs.co.nz.

Whanganui Mayor Hamish McDouall yesterday welcomed the plan and said council was keen to work with Midwest Ferries.

"Council supports the initiative in principle but we need to see the figures and how the economics stack up," Mr McDouall said.

Council business consultants had met and discussed the proposal with Midwest Ferries, he said, and were examining the business case.

Key to illustration:

1. Midwest ferries dock no.1
2. Midwest Ferries dock no. 2
3. Pleasure-boat ramp
4. Ddeflector wall
5. Stage One reclamation (ferry user parking)
6. Public parking
7. No. 3 Wharf (containing midwest ferries admin facilities, cafe/restaurant and maritime museum, etc. for public use)
8. Access channel into Q-West (current site)
9. Wharf space - Q-West client vessels
10. Proposed small boat marina (design to be confirmed)
11. Stage Two reclamation
12. Proposed dry dock
13. Midwest ferries dock No. 3 (future middle wharf)
14. Midwest ferries dock No. 4 (future middle wharf)
15. Pedestrian / fishing wharf