Milford Sound / Piopiotahi is New Zealand’s premier visitor attraction and a world class iconic destination, attracting nearly 1 million visitors per year. It is located in part of New Zealand’s largest National Park (Fiordland) and holds UNESCO World Heritage status. It is also one of our favourite playgrounds, as it offers opportunities for tramping, mountaineering, rock climbing, sea kayaking, whitewater kayaking, BASE jumping, scuba diving and more.
The current model used to manage recreation along the Milford Road corridor and Milford Sound / Piopiotahi is under stress and requires new thinking to safeguard the World Heritage status, conservation values and the visitor experience.
The Milford Opportunities Project (MOP) was established as a multi-agency project to look at how visitors are managed into the future at Milford Sound / Piopiotahi and along the Milford Road corridor. The project is supported by the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The group is working on a masterplan for Milford Sound / Piopiotahi that could recommend significant changes to the area. However, this will not be a statutory document and the final decision on any changes rest with Government.
FMC has major reservations about the project, which we see as bypassing our statutory processes regarding the management of National Parks. We believe that any issues relating the management of visitors to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi should have been addressed as part of the upcoming revision of the Fiordland National Park Management Plan, in accordance with the rules of the latter process. We are especially concerned about the inclusion of corporate interests (Hotel Managers and the Wayfare NZ / Real Journeys CEO) in the MOP’s governance group, and about the fact that the project’s Stage 1 only consulted with businesses, leaving consultation with recreational users to Stage 2. FMC is addressing these issues at political level.
As part of the project’s second stage, the Milford Opportunities Project is currently surveying stakeholders and Milford Sound recreational users. Regardless of the above concerns, it is important that we make our voices heard. Filling in this survey is not a 10-minute job – please take your time to do it properly.
Photo at top: Early morning sea kayaking on Milford Sound. (c) Danilo Hegg