Milford Sound Piopiotahi is one of New Zealand’s most visited tourist destinations, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Milford Opportunities Project (MOP) masterplan, recently launched in Te Anau, is the culmination of four years’ work by the Milford Opportunities group after concerns were raised about the rapid growth in visitor numbers by Southland District Council and the Department of Conservation. The launch moves the region closer to realising their vision of protecting the character of Milford Sound Piopiotahi “As It Was Forever” by managing how visitors arrive at and explore the area.
This management of access is one of the masterplan’s programme of ten solutions to address challenges faced by the area such as conservation compromise through increasing visitor numbers, aging infrastructure, congested access and uncoordinated experiences.
MOP Programme Manager Russell Halliday says, “The success of the masterplan process was in large part due to the extensive engagement across mana whenua and stakeholder groups including business operators, and local community and collaborative participation of local and central government.” Working alongside these participants; Stantec, Boffa Miskell and our diverse team of specialist sub-consultants worked to produce the masterplan which resulted in support from the government to progress to the implementation stage.
“The proposed solutions seek to recognise the significant existing natural beauty of the area and to develop conservation and cultural experiences as well as facilitate broader Southland Murihiku benefits”, says Russell. The masterplan further aims to develop a new transportation and visitor hub in Te Anau, expanded accommodation options, promotion of local community events as well as other visitor activities and services.
Another fundamental element of the masterplan is to reduce vehicle movement on Milford Road. The hub, coupled with a hop-on hop-off bus system will offer multiple stops and experiences between Te Anau and Milford Sound Piopiotahi while promoting sustainable development and operations to achieve zero carbon goals. Lastly, Russell highlighted the importance given to, “reorganising current practices and modernising the Milford Sound Piopiotahi infrastructure to remove conflicts between users and provide facilities that will create a cohesive place and reflect its world-class setting.”
The MOP masterplan consultant team is delighted to be part of a transformational change in New Zealand tourism and looks forward to supporting the Milford Opportunities Project into Stage 3.
Read the New Zealand Government's press release: Next step to protect Milford Sound Piopiotahi | Beehive.govt.nz
Find out more about the Milford Opportunities Project: https://www.milfordopportunities.nz/
Video: Milford Opportunities masterplan launch video - YouTube
Milford Opportunities Project partners
Stantec, Boffa Miskell, Kauati, Martin Jenkins, Natural Resources Law Limited, Visitor Solutions, Fresh Info, Buildmedia, Meneth, Libby and Ben, John Festarini (Parks Canada), and Richard Aquino (AUT).
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