19 Apr 2024

Salmon farm says tuk-tuk trial a success, ordering more

8:44 am on 19 April 2024

People moving tuk-tuks in action at a Mt Cook Alpine Salmon farm. Photo: Rick Ramsay Mt Cook Alpine Salmon

A salmon farm in the Mackenzie District says using electric tuk-tuks on its canals has been so successful, they are going to get more.

Normally seen on the streets of India or Thailand, Mt Cook Alpine Salmon uses them on its farms to move equipment and people around.

Environmental manager Rick Ramsay said they wanted to cut emissions, and after shopping around, the tuk-tuks were the best option.

"We looked at side-by-sides and quad bikes, but the tuk-tuks are much cheaper and we're finding they're really versatile.

"They can do a full turn on the narrow canal roads and staff can actually drive them straight onto the platforms, which saves a lot of time lifting stuff from one place to another."

Ramsay said an initial trial of four of the Chinese tuk-tuks in 2022 went so well they ordered 10 more and are now working out how many they will need to replace all fossil fuel vehicles on its salmon farms.

"They're like little utes - they can do everything, and it's been so great to replace fossil fuel vehicles. We're saving about $20,000 a year in fuel and our carbon emissions have dropped by 24 tonnes a year."

Initial concerns the tuk-tuks were 'too cheap' were proven wrong, and all the spare parts ordered 'just in case' have not been needed.

They have a carrying capacity of 400kg so they could fit quite a lot of gear on the back, Ramsay said.

"We also have two people moving tuk-tuks for one of the farms, they're six seaters and look a bit like a gold cart, which carry staff around the farm instead of a van."

Not classified as a vehicle in New Zealand, the tuk-tuks don't need a warrant of fitness or registration and you don't need a licence to drive them, he said.