Open Access Te Herenga Waka-Victoria University of Wellington
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Developing Gateways as Tourist Destinations: Ferry Services and Nodal Functions in Wellington and Picton

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posted on 2021-11-03, 22:15 authored by Lohmann, Gui

This thesis discusses the relationship between transport and tourism with a particular focus on how to improve the destination function of gateways. The case study chosen for this research is the Cook Strait ferries and the ferry ports of Wellington and Picton, in New Zealand. With the absence of academic literature dealing with the impacts of tourism in gateways and the fact that the concept of gateway has not been operationalised yet, the thesis proposes, via empirical analysis, a classification of ferry passengers according to four different functions: gateway tourists; overnight gateway visitors; stopover visitors and destination tourists. These nodal classifications basically comprise two variables: the absolute and relative length of stay in the nodes and the main reason for going there. The analytical framework also takes into consideration the passengers' place of origin: those living within the gateways' catchment areas (the Centre Stage of New Zealand Region - CSNZ); those living in New Zealand but outside the catchment areas; and passengers living overseas. Apart from secondary sources, on-board surveys with ferry passengers and semi-structured interviews with operators in Wellington and Picton are used to collect primary data. What the results show is that some segments of passengers are interested in extending their stay in Wellington and Picton if they had been offered more information about these two nodes or a special deal including the ferry crossing and accommodation in one of the gateways. International passengers are the group of passengers most likely to take advantage of these opportunities as those living in New Zealand are more interested to reach their final destinations and perhaps more familiarised with both nodes, so the incentives would not be very appealing to them. However, local operators were not able to suggest offers/arrangements to engage passing travellers to stop and visit these gateways. This can be attributed to lack of funds and relationship issues between tourism operators, particularly in Picton, and one of the ferry operators. In comparison to Picton that has a smaller destination function, results from this research suggested that gateways with a more developed destination function, such as the case of Wellington, are better prepared to convince traffic passing by to stop and visit them as tourist destination. The existence of more tourist attractions and activities is certainly an incentive to persuade travellers to stay longer in gateways. From the operationalisation of the concepts proposed in this thesis and the results obtained from the questionnaires and interviews, this research concludes that not only nodal functions vary from place to place (e.g. Picton as a small resort town and Wellington as a capital city), but also that these functions evolve throughout time, with seasonal variations also occurring (high vs. low seasons). With regards to the direction passengers are travelling and the influence on travellers' functions, variations are identified only among overnight gateway visitors, with the common pattern being passengers staying overnight before catching up the ferry the following day.


Copyright Date


Date of Award



Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Rights License

Author Retains Copyright

Degree Discipline

Tourism Management

Degree Grantor

Te Herenga Waka—Victoria University of Wellington

Degree Level


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Victoria University of Wellington Item Type

Awarded Doctoral Thesis



Victoria University of Wellington School

Victoria Management School


Sahlie, Mondher; Pearce, Doug