Albert Town Bridge jumping up for discussion

by Lauren Pattemore - Apr 05, 2024

Whether or not thrill-seekers should be allowed to leap off the one-lane road bridge in Albert Town could be up for debate in an upcoming council bylaw review.

Albert Town Community Association chairperson Heather Thorne says kids jumping off the Albert Town Bridge is a "rite of passage" and a personal choice.

"They're [bridge jumpers] aware of the risks, so surely they should be able to manage it."

She reckons it's not up for the council to decide whether individuals partake in this activity.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council asked for opinions from the public on a number of water-related issues during a preliminary online feedback round in November last year, with one question asking, what's council's role in jumping off Albert Town Bridge? 

The council is getting prepared to review its Navigational Safety Bylaw this year, and a QLDC spokesperson specifies that the draft document has not yet been written up or its content agreed upon.

"Given the interaction of bridge users and a very active water space around it, there was a relevant question to ask during pre-engagement with the community," the spokesperson says. 

Ms Thorne thinks authorities can't ban everything that could cause harm, and the association has submitted its thoughts when council last year's a the proposal, saying prohibiting jumping off Albert Town bridge be omitted from the new bylaw.

"You could be hit by a car walking down the street," she says, "you can't ban cars." 

Several years ago over summer no-jumping signs were erected at the bridge, in response to safety concerns from the New Zealand Transport Agency and following discussions with police in Wānaka and the harbourmaster. However, the instruction was unenforceable without a bylaw change.

Also up for review is whether private jet boats will be allowed on the stretch of river from the bridge to the outlet during the summer months.

In her submission on behalf of the association, Ms Thorne says the group fully support the current bylaw which restricts private jet boats.

"Passive recreation activities such as fishing, swimming, rafting, kayaking, paddle boarding and drift diving can now be enjoyed in a safe and peaceful environment," her submission says.

"There has been a noticeable increase in numbers using the river during this time and as long as everyone wears lifejackets and children are supervised it is a fantastic recreational area."

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