Queenstown Airport Draft Masterplan 

Re: Queenstown Airport Draft Masterplan 

Thank you for the opportunity to provide feedback on the Queenstown Airport Draft Masterplan (the Masterplan). 

Lightfoot have several areas we would like to address. Any development of Queenstown Airport (the Airport) has the potential to both positively and negatively impact the wider Queenstown community and Queenstown Lakes region. The Airport holds a unique geographical location, in that it sits at the heart of our built urban environment. As a centrally located airport, we are well positioned to develop an innovative Airport campus with an operating model that could become an exemplar both within NZ and internationally. Lightfoot believe that there are several opportunities that should be considered in the Masterplan. Queenstown Airport has an experienced and forward-thinking leadership team and we encourage you to seize every opportunity to create a climate-friendly Airport campus that the community fully supports. 

The proposed Masterplan does not go far enough to address the impact that increased passenger numbers will have on traffic in Queenstown. Working alongside the Queenstown Lakes District Council (QLDC), Otago Regional Council (ORC) and Waka Kotahi, developing the right infrastructure at the airport could circumvent some of the negative impacts of increased passenger movements over the next nine years. Although Frankton currently hosts only 8% of Queenstown’s residents, the Remarkables Park masterplan shows planned development of high density residential and visitor accommodation. This could include the development of between 3,000 – 5,000 residential and visitor dwellings. Recent land sales and future development on the Southern Corridor will also increase the pressure on traffic on the State Highway 6 (SH6) section of Frankton. 

It is essential that increased air passenger movements at the airport do not put additional pressure on traffic on Frankton or SH6. This can be achieved by carefully managing visitor and resident airport traffic through the use of technology and better infrastructure. The Airport is ideally located to use a wide range of innovative solutions to reduce transport emissions and showcase better ways to travel. 

The Masterplan outlines increased space for rental cars over the two stages of the masterplan. Lightfoot disagree with this. We understand that rental cars provide income for the Airport, and that the current infrastructure does not adequately provide alternatives. However, investment is required to reduce visitor dependence on rental cars. They should be the last and least attractive option available. As a CCTO, the Airport should not be including any planned development to increase the use of rental cars in Queenstown as they are significant contributors of both emissions and congestion. 

We encourage Queenstown Airport to undertake a study of why visitors to Queenstown hire rental cars. We propose that the following themes may emerge: 

A) Ease of travel when travelling with a family/large amounts of luggage 

B) The desire to travel independently, to go ‘where I want, when I want’ 

C) Lack of familiarity/fear/inexperience at using alternatives 

Several solutions to these themes are possible and include but are not limited to: 

– Large scale luggage transfer systems using smart technology. Imagine Queenstown Airport as the first airport in NZ (the world) to collaboratively pilot a programme with their national carrier (AirNZ) to track the start-to-end destination of passenger luggage. When checking in for a domestic or in-bound Australian AirNZ flight, the end destination of the luggage is tagged so on arrival the passenger does not need to consider their luggage. Instead of a visitor’s first experience being a baggage arrival area and an up-to-two hour mission to get a rental car, visitors could proceed stress-free to the joys Queenstown has to offer. This could include heading straight to the mountain to ski or mountain bike, to a meeting, dinner or their hotel using a bus, e-bike, boat or shuttle. Smart E-vehicles then deliver the baggage to the tagged destination within one hour of arrival. 

– Making a wider range of transport options easy and accessible at the Airport. The current provision of bus services is limited to a few regional buses and the number 1 bus. Dedicating space for several bus lines, including an Airport Circular bus that drops visitors every ten minutes to locations within Frankton, is needed. 

– A rapid mass transit (RMT) system to quickly and efficiently transport passengers to and from the Airport. Key destinations include: the Transport/Bus hub and the Frankton waterfront. Within five years, development of the ferry system operating from Frankton Beach jetty will be able to deliver users to destinations on Frankton Road, Queenstown, Jack’s Point and beyond. The use of autonomous vehicles, a cable car or gondola system, or light rail could originate from the airport campus to key destinations. The Porter Group are working with a Christchurch based company to develop a form of RMT that could be tested in Queenstown. 

– Large scale bicycle hire (including commuter, e-cargo and multi-person e-bikes) available for hire in terminal, with all associated gear available for hire. If the issue of luggage transfers is removed or irrelevant (one-day business visitors), then short or long term bike hire could supplant the need for a rental car immediately on arrival. We have independent bike retailers and hire companies who could participate in a test of this idea with minimal investment by the Airport. 

– Bus services to popular tourist destinations eg: Ski buses, Gibbston etc 

As Frankton continues to develop, the spatial priority provided to rental cars is no longer acceptable. The area immediately surrounding the Airport campus should reflect the vision and values of the Queenstown community, and those stated in the Masterplan. Currently the ‘Frankton rental car parking lots’ of Lucas Place and Hawthorne Drive do not reflect these values. Additional development in the Frankton flats will remove the current rental car parking near Hawthorne Drive. This will lead to further issues with congestion with cars being transferred to the terminal across longer distances. As a significant member of the community the Airport must be putting structures in place to limit any unnecessary emissions or congestion on our roads. 

Streets littered by rental cars detract from our beautiful scenery 

A Greenway on the ‘paper road’ between Lucas Place and Humphrey Street has been proposed for 2032. It is an excellent idea but it should be developed immediately. We recommend that it provides both pedestrian and cycle access to the future Frankton Beach jetty and Frankton active travel routes. However, as stated above, this route should also include a RMT system to deliver high numbers of users to connect them into water-based transport options. 

Making Queenstown Airport one of the most ‘cycle friendly destinations’ in the world. Lightfoot agree that this is a good goal to include, however we propose ‘active travel destination’ would better reflect the immediate need to shift behaviours. We would like to see high volume short and long term bicycle storage options, dedicated space for bike builds, information kiosks to support active travel options, onsite bicycle mechanics available and the prioritisation of walk, bike, bus options within the Airport campus. 

The Masterplan contains good Strategic Pillars. We encourage you to move further and move faster to help address some of the wicked problems Queenstown is facing. We are happy to discuss any points raised in this letter. 

Ngā mānaakitanga, 

Amanda Robinson 

General Manager and Trustee 

On behalf of The Lightfoot Initiative Charitable Trust