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Whanganui to Motueka ferry idea could be the answer to NZ's natural disaster-prone transport systems

A Whanganui businessman's proposal for a ferry service from his town to Motueka near the top of the South Island has the support of investors and the Whanganui District Council.

A Whanganui businessman it floating the idea of a ferry from his town to Motueka. Source: 1 NEWS

Wellington port was badly damaged in the Kaikoura earthquake, and while ferry terminals were back up and running the following day, Neville Johnson says it shows the need for more ferry options between the two islands. 

"I'm yet to find anyone point the finger at any one spot and say 'you can't do that, because'," Mr Johnson of Midwest Ferries told 1 NEWS.

Mr Johnson says the Whanganui port has been neglected, but he sees it having huge tourism potential and wants it to be a major freight port.

Truck owners and freight companies have been approached to invest, the big draw card being claims the ferry service will knock five hours off travel time from Auckland to Christchurch.

Whanganui District Council is working with Mr Johnson.

The mayor says they're supportive of the idea but want to see further business proposals first. 

Its a lot of work. It'll be very challenging - Tasman District Mayor Richard Kempthorne

At the other end, Port Motueka needs a bit more work done. It's estimated it'll cost around $14 million to dredge both ports to allow large ferries to berth. 

Tasman District Mayor Richard Kempthorne says the council hasn't yet received a proposal from Midwest Ferries.

"Its a lot of work. It'll be very challenging," he said.

And it's not just the port that could pose issues.

"What we're seeing at the moment is with the earthquakes there's a lot more traffic coming up the Wairau Valley and through St Arnaud and Murchison. This traffic would be going up the Motueka Valley which has roads that really aren't catered for," Mr Kempthorne said.

Despite the challenges, and the idea being in the early stages, Mr Johnson is certain it'll get off the ground and is aiming to get the first ferry going in two years.