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Ferry to resume operations

Source: odt.co.nz

The Tuapeka Mouth ferry will be back in action tomorrow after a four-week interval. The ferry, also known as the Tuapeka Mouth punt, was taken out of the water last month for maintenance.

Tuapeka-Mouth-FerryWork was originally supposed to have taken two weeks but was extended by another two.

Clutha District Council northern contract supervisor James Allison said it should be operational tomorrow, granted it passed safety checks by contractors.

‘‘We've given it a coat of paint ... and some minor repair work while it was out of the water,'' Mr Allison said.

‘‘It should be up and ready for another hundred and something years.''

The ferry was returned to the water on Friday by Fulton Hogan contractors.

Tuapeka Mouth Heritage Hub secretary Margaret Sowry said the extra two weeks' work had caused a lot of disruption, as this season was generally busier than any other.

She was glad it was finally back in the water. The more often it was used the longer it would be allowed to stay in service.

‘‘It's world-renowned and it's the last of its kind,'' Mrs Sowry said.

It is believed to be the last water-driven punt in the southern hemisphere.

The ferry was a tourist attraction but many locals also used it regularly.

‘‘They're just backwards and forwards, morning and night,'' Mrs Sowry said.

The Tuapeka Mouth Ferry is about 30km northwest of Balclutha and travels across the Clutha River between Clutha River Rd and Ferry Rd at Tuapeka Mouth.

The ferry is funded by the Clutha District Council under its road maintenance contracts and is treated like a bridge.

It was first opened in February 1896, and there have been about 25 different punts used on the river over the 120-year period.

It normally operates 8am to 10am and 4pm to 6pm, subject to river conditions and is free of charge.