Marlborough farewells its River Queen

The River Queen near Butterfactory corner in Marlborough.
Scott HammondThe River Queen near Butterfactory corner in Marlborough.

The River Queen was a fixture on the Taylor River, the shallow river winding through the town centre in Blenheim, for more than a decade. 

The riverside town in North Canterbury hopes to become a popular destination, with canal boats, events and riverside shopping all part of the future plans for its town centre. The introduction of the River Queen was seen as positive step towards those goals.

The flat-bottomed boat was transported by truck and turned heads as it travelled down the South Island.

READ MORE:
* Kaiapoi a step closer to destination status after district council adopts bold plan for town centre
* Public feedback sought on Kaiapoi’s future look after red zones open up to business
* Regeneration projects in Waimakariri district get funding boost

Formerly owned by Alan Wilkinson The River Queen has gone through three owners since its introduction to Blenheim in 2005.

An artist's impression of the revamped Kaiapoi town centre, focused around the Kaiapoi River with the goal to make Kaiapoi "New Zealand's Best Rivertown".
SUPPLIEDAn artist’s impression of the revamped Kaiapoi town centre, focused around the Kaiapoi River with the goal to make Kaiapoi “New Zealand’s Best Rivertown”.

From burglaries and break-ins, to nude tours and good causes the boat served Marlburians through good and bad.

Bristed Brother Boat Co co-owner Bill Bristed said the River Queen was a brilliant, comfortable boat.

“I went down the river three or four times on it,” Bristed said. “They were good people and we got on with them well.”

There was speculation the river might be too shallow for the River Queen after the Kaikōura earthquake uplifted parts of the river bed.

The Waimakariri District Council adopted the Kaiapoi Town Centre Plan this week following a month-long public consultation process.

The plan aims to make Kaiapoi “New Zealand’s Best Rivertown” saying it had the potential to become a vibrant destination.

In 2013 The River Queen hosted a Nude Adventure ride.
In 2013 The River Queen hosted a Nude Adventure ride.

The Waimakariri District Council had been investigating options for canal boats, both residential and commercial, and had received interest from private house boat owners. 

Waimakariri mayor David Ayers said the land provided a rare opportunity to reshape and expand the town centre.

“It gives us the chance to plan for a town centre that is focused around the river, embraces the wishes of the community and will meet the needs of future generations.”

Former River Queen owner Alan Wilkinson was not available for comment.
STUFFFormer River Queen owner Alan Wilkinson was not available for comment.

Waimakariri district councillor Al Blackie said there was a strong sense of optimism about the town’s future as shown by private developments such as a new waterfront brewery and the introduction of the River Queen, a cruising restaurant vessel, to the Kaiapoi River. 

“In just a few years, we’ll have these new recreational facilities right on the doorstep of the town centre.

“Everything is looking positive, but we need to keep working hard to make sure we realise our town’s full potential.”

Twenty-six projects are outlined in the plan. Improvements have started on landscaping, lighting and parking in the town centre, while the riverside terraces are nearing completion. Other projects expected to be completed in the next three years include negotiations with the Motor Caravan Association to determine a site, the former Bridge Tavern project, and painting of the Williams St bridge.  

The River Queen being placed back into the water after refurbishment in 2006.
Warwick BlacklerThe River Queen being placed back into the water after refurbishment in 2006.

The Marlborough Express