Coach ban retained at Lake Clearwater, smaller tourist buses permitted

Published: 20 November 2023

Large tourist coaches will continue to be banned from the Lake Clearwater village, though smaller buses with 20 seats or less are permitted.

Council owns the reserve, which has 180 baches, and banned large coaches this year after hutholders voiced concerns that the narrow informal roads were not designed for such large vehicles.

Hassle-free Tours operates regular trips into the Ashburton Lakes area and takes visitors to the end of Mt D’Archiac Street, which has outstanding views across Lake Clearwater, on its Lord of the Rings tour to Mt Sunday.

Owner and managing director Mark Gilbert asked Council to reconsider the coach ban at a hearing before Councillors last week.

Mr Gilbert said the view from the end of Mt D’Archiac Street was one of the best views in New Zealand and the large coach ban meant travellers on some of his tours would need to walk from Hakatere Potts Road to the viewpoint.

Councillors said they wanted the tourism operator and hutholders to meet as part of a Council-led working party to sort through their differences, and decided to keep the large coach ban, but give access to smaller 20-seat buses.

Hutholders Steve Hadler and Colin Pearson told the hearing that their concerns and continued support for a coach ban stemmed from seeing larger 42-seat and 60-seat buses and coaches navigate the narrow roads that were not suited to such vehicles.

The make-up of the working group, and terms of reference, will be worked out by Council.

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