Contractors hit the water as work on the Bluff boat ramp upgrade gets under way

Boaties keen to hit the water will soon have a new boat ramp to launch from with work getting under way at the Bluff wharf.

This week, commercial diving and marine contracting company Sub Aqua Solutions was in the water, installing the piles that will support the new ramp and pontoons.

Invercargill City Council committed in its Long-term Plan to upgrade the Bluff Boat Ramp as part of the Bluff Tourism Masterplan, which also includes the Bluff Hill Motupōhue Active Recreation Precinct, which also got under way this month.

Council Group Manager Infrastructure Erin Moogan said the current boat ramp had deteriorated and was no longer fit for purpose, restricting the types of boats that could launch from there.

For the past year, Council has been engaging with the Bluff community, Bluff Yacht Club, Recreational Fishermen, and Southland Trailer Yacht to determine the needs of users and the design that would best fit everyone using it.

The new design includes a boat ramp that extends past the current one and two floating pontoons on either side that will be able to withstand all weather.

It was great to see the project officially get under way, Moogan said.

“This is something we have been discussing with the Bluff community for a while now, and now that we are starting to see it come to life, I’m sure a lot of people will be looking forward to using this when it is finished.”

Engineering consultancy Offshore & Coastal Engineering Ltd (OCEL) is in the process of working on the final design of the boat ramp but work can begin on installing piles and caisson (watertight retaining structures) under the water.

“I’d like to thank the community for being patient as we iron out the last few creases in the designs. We know they have been waiting a long time for a new boat ramp and I believe it will be well utilised when it is finished.

“Bluff is the gateway to Rakiura and beyond, and I envision this ramp to draw boaties from all over the country to enjoy everything that Southland has to offer – both on land and on water.”

The floating pontoons will feature safety lights, an electrical outlet, and a tap with fresh water.

The pontoons had been designed to withstand the harsh weather Southland was known for, and because it floated it would rise and fall with the tide, no matter how extreme, Butcher said.

The boat ramp will remain open while work is ongoing. However, there may be short periods where it needs to be closed for public safety.

Invercargill City Council staff are in the process of reviewing tender applications for work on the steel pontoons, jetties fabrication, and installation, and the chosen applicant is expected to start work at the beginning of November.

Stage one of the project, which includes the pontoons and gangways, is expected to be finished in early 2024.