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Dunedin or Invercargill? A court decides

NZ NewswireNZ Newswire 13/07/2016

<span style="font-size:13px;">Is Wanaka closer to Dunedin or Invercargill? That's been left to a High Court judge to decide.</span> © Getty Is Wanaka closer to Dunedin or Invercargill? That's been left to a High Court judge to decide. A High Court has been forced to answer a very specific question: is Wanaka closer to Dunedin or Invercargill?

A legal wrangle over just where a lawsuit should be heard left Associate Justice Rob Osborne making a decision about geography using Google Maps and suggesting Queenstown needs its own High Court.

The plaintiff in a lawsuit, Michael Mountz, filed his case at the registry in Dunedin, but the three defendants argued Invercargill was closer to one of their Wanaka homes and was more convenient for everyone.

To answer the question of which was actually closer - and thus the correct venue - Justice Osborne at the High Court in Dunedin decided "nearest" would have to mean the shortest driving route - as opposed on a straight line on a map.

The defendants presented Google Maps data which showed the Wanaka to Dunedin drive was 276km and would take three hours and 20 minutes. That compared to the 242km Wanaka to Invercargill trip that was also six minutes faster.

Mr Mountz argued parts of that route were often closed due to bad weather and it wasn't actually more practical.

But Justice Osborne wasn't convinced, ruling Invercargill was, in fact, the nearer option, moving the case there and ordering Mr Mountz to pay costs.

The judge said that the case also highlighted that despite a population of nearly 30,000 in the Wanaka-Queenstown area, there was no nearby High Court, leaving locals driving hundreds of kilometres for cases.

He said a new court in Queenstown would also help areas such as Haast, where people have to travel 316km to Greymouth to get to hearings.

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