Eugenie Sage
Love Our Parks, Save Our Parks

I visited Te Anau and Glenorchy recently to meet with representatives of Save Fiordland and Stop the Tunnel.  They are working to protect Fiordland from Milford Dart Ltd’s preposterous proposal to mine a 11.3 km long, 430m deep tunnel from the start of the Routeburn Track to the Hollyford Valley and its destructive twin – a proposed 49 km monorail from the Mavora Lakes area to Te Anau Downs.

Love Fiordland BannerTe Anau is the gateway to our largest national park, Fiordland and 2012 is the 60th anniversary of the park’s establishment. 2012 is also the 125th anniversary of the creation of New Zealand’s first national park, Tongariro.

It defies wisdom that both the tunnel and monorail development reached the public hearing and submission stage in this anniversary year because they were not rejected early on by the Department of Conservation, Minister Kate Wilkinson or her Labour predecessors. Both proposals are clearly at odds with the preservation and protection requirements of the National Parks Act 1980, national park management plans and DoC’s conservation management strategies.

Citizens groups such as Save Fiordland and Stop the Tunnel should not have to wage David and Goliath battles with corporates who want access to cheap public land for their destructive projects, particularly when DoC’s statutory plans contain strong policies protecting the parks against such developments.

One objective in the Mt Aspiring national park plan is for example:  “To not provide for new roads or other land transport options, except for those required to facilitate access to departmental facilities in the front country zone…”

The plans were finalised after a lengthy and robust process involving initial public and stakeholder consultation, public submissions, hearings, and detailed scrutiny and consideration by conservation boards, the NZ Conservation Authority and the Minister.  The Minister should be applying these policies, not pretending they don’t exist

National parks are protected from mining yet the tunnel’s impacts would be similar. Milford Dart Ltd wants to dump more than 250,000 tonnes of waste rock beside the Hollyford River. This would create an eight metre high eyesore and a potential source of acid mine drainage given the combination of unweathered acid bearing rock and Fiordland rain.

“Love our parks” is this year’s Conservation Week theme. “Love Fiordland” fabric banners decorate the street lights in Te Anau’s main street.

Former guide on the Milford and Hollyford Tracks and Fiordland enthusiast Ray Willett says he is too busy saving Fiordland to be able to love the park.

Ray’s first signs were mile markers on the Milford Track crafted from biscuit tin lids to show walkers in the 1960s how many miles they were from Glade House.

Today Ray’s large sign at the entrance to Te Anau highlights the strength of the feeling in the town against both the tunnel and the monorail. Both are aimed at transporting visitors as quickly as possible from Queenstown to Piopiotahi/Milford Sound and back again.

Eugenie at start of Routeburn on the fan that Milford Dart Ltd wants to carve its tunnel access road across

Eugenie at start of Routeburn on the fan that Milford Dart Ltd wants to carve its tunnel access road across

Tourists are not moles. Why would anyone want to travel 11 kms in the dark, deep underground and miss some of New Zealand’s most spectacular forest and mountain scenery and most of what has been described as one of the finest journeys in the world ?

 

Ray Willett’s challenge to Conservation Minister Wilkinson is to take the advice of W. Clement Stone:

“Have the courage to say no. Have the courage to face the truth. Do the right thing because it is right. These are the magic keys to living life with integrity”.

Saying no to both the tunnel and the monorail would protect the integrity of Fiordland and Aspiring national parks and respect the public input into park management plans.

7 thoughts on “Love Our Parks, Save Our Parks

  1. Eugenie asks “Why would anyone want to travel 11 kms in the dark, deep underground and miss some of New Zealand’s most spectacular forest and mountain scenery and most of what has been described as one of the finest journeys in the world ?”

    I thought that was obvious. It will cut hours and hours off their overly long day trip to Milford.

    The primary problem here is Queenstown based businesses trying to have a strangle hold on Milford Sound Tourism.

    It’s a problem NOW, because instead of staying in Te Anau, tourists are bundled onto a bus before it gets light, are rushed to Milford, spend a short time there, are rushed back, and get back to their hotel in the middle of the night.

    And the Milford Tunnel is all about exactly the same thing – trying to gain a monopoly control of the Milford tourism market.

    Perhaps a more pertinent question would be “How do we break Queenstown’s stranglehold on the Milford tourism market?”

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  2. Just to clear up a couple of mistakes in Eugenie’s blog – the monorail does not run through national park; the section that runs through DOC estate is 29kms (not 49kms); and the monorail proposal is consistent with DOC’s conservation management plan.

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  3. “How do we break Queenstown’s stranglehold on the Milford tourism market?”

    Print some leaflets pointing out that you can stay in Milford Sound or rent a car/camper van and drive there at your leisure, stopping to admire the scenery along the way.

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  4. Your view seems a bit odd in the light that the many hours saved by the tunnel will significantly reduce the pollution being spewed by cars and buses as they drive by one of our greatest natural forests. And back again.

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  5. What nearly caused me to almost fall off my chair was not Eugenie being her usual forthright self, but the fact that former right-wing Christchurch councillor Denis O’Rourke was also supporting the Te Anau based opposition to the insane tunnel. The DOC Director-General seems to be avoiding making a decision for as long as possible. A pity Eugenie didn’t ask Wilkinson when the decision would be made.

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  6. STEVENSON FAMILY have submitted the biggest private plan change to change rural to industrial zone 3 and 4 in DRURY to develop a indutrial area. WHAT PRICE DOES THE ENVIORNMENT HAVE TO pay. WHO WILL PAY for River DIVERSON OF STREAMS, DAMS made up streams TO ENSURE drury DOES NOT flood. You will pay the tax payers of Auckland and when ARC is broke under statuary management YOU the tax payers of NZ will PAY….. Stand up and stop it now. HAVE YOUR say say NO to this private plan change through a submisison OPEN NOW TO 16TH Oct.
    I live in drury looking over farm land which is a flood plain that has existed for 1000 of years. We have taken water for both animals and family for drinking water for over 26 years, we have kiayed and eeled this river camped beside it and planted trees that support wild life breading. WHO is going to speak for the enviornment……..YOU ARE….YOU

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