Happy New Year.
In what is one of the busiest times of the year for us here in Queenstown, it is great to see so many people enjoying our wonderful town.
A lot of holiday makers descend on the area for holidays with friends and families, along with our usual influx of tourists.
It does highlight some issues though, where extra investment is needed, for both us who live here and those who are visiting.
One example of this is the need for a public toilet of some kind on Ben Lomond Saddle.
As more and more people travel to our piece of paradise and use trails like Ben Lomond, we also need to make sure we are investing in infrastructure that can cope with our tourism numbers.
About 35,000 people use this trail annually.
Ten years ago only 7000 people used the trail.
I am lobbying the Government for a toilet at the Ben Lomond Saddle.
I have written to both the Department of Conservation and the Minister of Conservation advocating for a public toilet on the trail.
I trekked up to the saddle twice in two days last month.
The first day was to inspect the area after receiving a complaint about the amount of crap on the side of the trail.
I was so disappointed with what I saw, I returned the following day with a pick-up stick and disposable bags to pick up the toilet paper every 10 metres or so above the saddle.
The other major need we face is investment in our roading, with the Christmas period again highlighting safety concerns.
We know New Zealand roads are like no others, and those travelling in and out of Queenstown are some of the most unique in the country.
State Highway 6 between Five Rivers and Queenstown needs dramatic safety improvements now.
Following the Government’s $1.4 billion announcements of safety upgrades last year, the South Island has been completely missed off the “top priority” list for upgrades, another blow for rural communities.
The only projects on the list so far south Ashburton are between Dunedin and Port Chalmers.
For those of you still enjoying your holiday break – take care out there.
For the rest of you returning to work, I wish you all the best for 2020, and for those who haven’t yet managed to put their feet up, make sure you do when you can.
This year is gearing up to be another year full of battles and hopefully successes and I look forward to seeing you around.