Skyline search warrant as investigation continues

by Kim Bowden - Jul 10, 2024

Queenstown Lakes District Council staff have visited Skyline's Queenstown gondola with a member of the police in tow, although details are limited on exactly what played out and why.

A spokesperson for the QLDC says council officers were executing a search warrant under the Resource Management Act, and in such situations it is a requirement that a police constable accompany council staff.

However, that was about all the council spokesperson would say on the incident, which Crux understands occurred last week.

"The information requested relates to an active investigation underway...Council is not in a position to provide further comment until the investigation comes to a conclusion."

The council is investigating Skyline in relation to events in September, when a local state of emergency was declared in Queenstown. 

Skyline has not responded to a request from Crux for comment.

But, when questioned by reporter Natasha Jojoa Burling of industry publication Tourism Ticker on the incident, Skyline chief executive Geoff McDonald said he was surprised the council had deemed a search warrant necessary.

He told Ms Burling he assumed the visit was related to the council's investigation into the "slips" during the September rain event, when a month's worth of rain fell in 24 hours.

At that time, mud, logs and other debris flowed down Bob's Peak under the gondola, inundating the Queenstown Cemetery, which was closed for several months as a result.

A few blocks away, a separate debris flow that started at a construction site at the top of the gondola covered areas around Reavers Lane, damaging private property and forcing residents and businesses to evacuate overnight.

An investigation by Crux in the weeks following the storm revealed Skyline to be the source of the Reavers Lane flow, forcing the company to issue an apology and district mayor Glyn Lewers to demand answers.

The QDLC spokesperson says the council's investigation into Skyline and the September rain event is expected to be complete by the end of September. 

A police spokesperson has confirmed to Crux last week's visit to Skyline was part of a council-led RMA search warrant.

Main image (File photo): The starting point for a debris flow from the top of the Skyline gondola to Reavers Lane, as captured by Crux reporter Lauren Pattemore in the weeks after the September local state of emergency.

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