Thu, Jan 19, 2023 9:59 AM

Fewer boaties in Sounds eases summer parking pressure


Maia Hart

After dealing with an influx of boaties over the last two summers, it’s been a “bit slower” to get started in Marlborough this season, the region’s harbourmaster says.

“There's definitely still lots of people boating, but from what I've been told, compared to last year it was a bit slower to get going, but still has been a busy season,” Marlborough harbourmaster Jake Oliver said.

He said most of their team’s interactions with people had been about speed.

“The message has generally been well received through the boating community but when I go through our list of events this year, the most common theme has been speed,” Oliver said.

“It's sort of pretty spread out across the sounds.

“There's not really kind of one key hot spot. There's been a little bit of it in some of the very popular bays that does pop up, like Lochmara and areas like that.”

Fewer boaties than normal have been out on the water in the Marlborough Sounds so far this summer season. Photo: Supplied/STUFF.

He said this was particularly important coming into shore, so wake and wash were kept to a minimum.

“People just slowing down in time and just reducing their wash would be really helpful, so we don't get an incident, and it just gives people time to react if another boat starts coming out.”

He said there had been a couple of incidences where people had to be reminded to wear their life jacket.

Meanwhile, they were keeping a close eye on Waikawa Marina, he said.

“The new marina, there's been no reported incidents so far, but I know there's definitely some concerns because it's a new area where there's a lot of boats coming in and out, so we're just watching that one carefully.”

It comes after a shortage of boat parking in Picton last year caused headaches for residents and holidaymakers in Picton.

The influx of boaties, put down by many as people buying boats because they could not travel overseas, caused a constant traffic jam in Picton.

It also led to congestion in the water as people had to tie their boats up while someone went to find a park. Others were also parking over residential driveways.

It prompted the council to reviewing the Victoria Domain Reserves Management Plan a year after it was adopted. At the time, the plan prohibited vehicles on the “grassed open spaces” of Memorial Park, unless otherwise agreed for things such as maintenance activities or events.

Over Christmas and New Year last season parking demand in Picton well outstripped supply. Photo: Supplied/STUFF.

The area of flat green space in Memorial Park was approximately 16,500 square metres.

It also provided an important space for helicopter landings beside the Picton Emergency Operations Centre, shared by Marlborough Coastguard and St John.

The plan was later changed to allow for parking on the grassed area, following public consultation.

A Port Marlborough spokesperson said they have been pleased with the flow of trailer boats in the marinas this season.

“Over the peak festive time all three marinas were busy with both berth holders and trailer boats while the weather was good. Our marinas teams were well organised in preparation,” the spokesperson said.

They said they worked together with the council’s parks and reserves team to secure additional temporary parking at Picton Marina, which had been successfully managed.

“The peak in trailer boating demand did not reach the levels experienced last year, but we are still seeing holidaymakers coming through the marinas from all around the country to enjoy the Sounds over the school holidays.”

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