A smooth quiet emission-free ride from Thames Coromandel to Auckland’s CBD in 30 minutes and costing around $30 might seem to be a futuristic fantasy. In fact, this could be a reality as early as 2025.
A New Zealand consortium has announced it will be purchasing a fleet of 25 Sea gliders which will operate initially out of Auckland and Wellington. Delivery is expected around 2025. Seagliders are fully electric and will operate over the coastal waters of New Zealand. The craft is designed to initially move forward on its hull then as they gain speed they foil much like an America’s Cup yacht, then take off and fly at about 10 m above the ocean.
“The Ocean Flyer consortium has stated that a connection between Auckland and Whitianga (and Tauranga) is planned. In interviews, they have said a 150 km flight to Whangarei would take 30 minutes and cost around $30. Auckland to Whitianga is also around 150 km so a $30 fare is feasible to connect to Coromandel’s east coast”, said Denis Tegg, Thames-Coromandel representative on the Waikato Regional Council.
“This will be a game-changer for coastal towns on the Coromandel Peninsula and is really exciting,” said Cr Tegg. “Imagine being able to get to the Viaduct in central Auckland within 30 minutes for just $30, with zero climate emissions and avoiding a stressful car trip taking upwards of three hours.”
“Within a few years, we could potentially have Seaglider links to other Coromandel Peninsula towns such as Coromandel and Thames/Kopu servicing the catchment in Thames, Hauraki, the eastern Waikato region and northern Bay of Plenty”
“The craft is very quiet so it can be operated at night for freight transport without disturbing local residents. This is another huge opportunity for Thames-Coromandel businesses to quickly and cheaply move their goods to market”, Tegg said.
“Whilst these types of services might initially be run by commercial interests, there is also the potential for them to be operated as a public transport “ferry” service. Operating costs for this craft are about one-eighth of those for a conventional aircraft so they could eventually be a good fit for public transport.”
“Waikato Regional Council has responsibility for coastal infrastructure like wharves and jetties and for public transport so the council has to be nimble and flexible enough to plan for these exciting emerging technologies,” Cr Tegg said.
Denis Tegg — Thames Coromandel representative on Waikato Regional Council