Milford Opportunities Newsletter

December 2023

Milford Opportunities December Newsletter 2023

Kia ora and welcome to our last newsletter of the year.

In this edition, we share the first of three feasibility reports into a proposed cycle trail, feedback from the Milford Sound Piopiotahi community and from the New Zealand Deerstalkers Southern Branch and we welcome Snehal who will be on the front desk in our visitor hub over summer.

Engagements over the last few weeks include an update to Southland District Council, NZ Deerstalkers Southern Branch and the Tourism Export Council. We also talked with tourism students at the Liger Leadership Academy in Queenstown about their ideas and views on the project.

Communications and Engagement Workstream Lead, Phil Tisch, is taking some time off for family adventures over the next six weeks, with Lizzy Sutcliffe filling this role until the end of January. Please reach out to Lizzy as you would to Phil with any questions etc:

Wishing you a safe and enjoyable Christmas and New Year


Noho ora mai

Milford Opportunities Project Team

Milford Opportunities December Newsletter 2023

Hub opening hours from 3 January 2024

Milford Opportunities Project hubMilford Opportunities Project Hub summer 2024 opening hours (from 3 January):

  • Monday to Friday (except Thursdays) – 10am to 3pm
  • Thursday – 3pm to 7pm

During these hours, feel free to come in and catch up on the project, ask questions and provide feedback.

For other ways to get in touch or provide feedback visit:



Welcome Snehal

Snehal Patil has joined the Milford Opportunities Project filling the front desk role as we open the Te Anau hub doors for community drop-ins over summer.

With a deep love for nature and a commitment to preserving this breathtaking landscape, Snehal brings a wealth of experience in customer service, client relationship management, key accounts management, and social media marketing. Snehal is also working to raise awareness of the project and maintain project’s profile online and within her local community.

Snehal is happy to answer questions, take your feedback or direct you to the right member of our team for more in-depth information.

Feasibility testing: cycle trail proposal

One of the proposals in the Milford Opportunities Masterplan is for a Grade 2 cycle trail from Te Rua-o-Te-Moko Fiordland National Park boundary to Ōtāpara Cascade Creek campground.

The project team is currently testing the feasibility of this proposal from a range of viewpoints including how its stacks up against current statutory provisions, its potential environmental impact, its constructability and operating and maintenance requirements, and cost.

The cycle trail is being considered as if it were to be connected to the proposed extension of Fiordland Trails Trust’s Lake2Lake Trail from Te Anau to Te Anau Downs. If connected up to this proposed trail it would result in a continuous 110-120km trail from Manapouri to Otapara Cascade Creek, similar in length to many of the Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail Great Rides.

One aspect the Transport and Infrastructure team has investigated is forecast demand for the trail and the potential economic and social impact the proposal might make to Te Anau and environs should it proceed.

The resulting report, commissioned from Angus & Associates a tourism consultant based in Wellington with much experience in considering similar proposals, is titled Te Anau Downs to Cascade Creek Impact Assessment.

The report found that, depending on international visitors level of willingness to pay an access fee to enter Te Rua-o-Te-Moko Fiordland National Park via the cycle trail, usage starting (assumed in 2028) at between 52,000 to 74,000 per year, incremental bed nights of between 54,000 and 77,000 per year, visitor expenditure of  between $14 million and $20 million per year, and Full Time Equivalent jobs of between 121 and 173.

Masterplan illustration
Masterplan illustration

This would put the trail in the top 6 of the Ngā Haerenga New Zealand Cycle Trail Great rides in terms of usage.

By 2040, the impact of the trail is forecast to increase to 120,000 users, 125,000 incremental bed nights, and visitor expenditure of $43.5 million.

Nothing has yet been decided regarding how the international access fee might work for Piopiotahi. For the purposes of this study, it was assumed that the fee would apply to international users of the proposed cycle trail.

While the results are very positive, it is just one of a number of assessments needed to understand the cycle trail’s feasibility. We also need to understand if the trail is feasible from ecological, legislative and financial (e.g. costs of building and maintaining it) perspectives. This work is currently underway.

Download the Te Anau Downs to Cascade Creek Impact Assessment report as a PDF file (5MB)

Milford Sound Piopiotahi community feedback

Freshwater Basin, Milford Sound Piopiotahi
Freshwater Basin, Milford Sound Piopiotahi

Thanks to all those in the Milford Sound community who took the time to listen and feed back to us when we visited Piopiotahi on 22 November. Thanks also to Southern Discoveries for hosting.

The main themes included:
  • Fairness of access to the place – should cater for all – the diversity of visitors makes this a better place to visit and work.
  • Freedom of access – huge part of the beauty of living here is freedom of access to the surrounding nature – (hunting, kayaking etc). Please ensure any system continues to enable this.
  • Need to protect this community e.g. a single staff accommodation building isn’t feasible.
  • Need to “get real” about the true costs of the visitor experience and ensure a fee covers that.
  • More people on coaches from Te Anau makes sense.
  • Fix the stuff that needs fixing and put the rest into conservation – don’t build more.
  • The challenges the project is trying to solve are complex and deep-seated.
  • See how the place holds up this summer – you’ll see the issues.

Download a full summary of the conversation with the Milford Sound community as a PDF file (844 KB)

NZDA Southland Branch feedback

On 7 December 2023 Milford Opportunities Project Director, Chris Goddard and Engagement and Communications Lead, Phil Tisch ran a question-and-answer session for members of the Southland Branch of NZDA and associated clubs.

Thanks to everyone who came along and shared their views. It was clear from the session that there were strong concerns around maintaining access for New Zealanders to this important area for hunting and fishing. While we don’t yet have the detail needed to answer many of the questions raised, the session will inform our work and we have committed to ensuring NZDA context continues to shape the work on options over the coming months.

Download a record of what we heard from NZDA members as a PDF file (774 KB)

Director’s message

Chris GoddardWhile some of you take a well-earned break and others are busier than ever over the festive season, thanks to everyone who has contributed, supported, given time to and questioned the Milford Opportunities team as we work on feasibility testing and identifying viable options based on the recommendations of the Milford Opportunities Masterplan.

From the opening of the project hub in January through to today, we’re now seeing the results of the research, your input, advice, and experience coming through.

The next 26 weeks will be testing these options and results with groups, community and industry experts.   This drives the business case, where the Milford Opportunities Board presents options to the Ministerial Group on what is possible as well as what is beneficial for Milford Sound Piopiotahi, Te Anau, Southland, and wider New Zealand.  All this is due to be complete by 30 June 2024.

The Te Anau project hub will be open for drop-ins over summer as we do this work, with time in the early evening every Thursday.  For those out of Te Anau, the website is a great place to look for the information coming through. We work hard to publish what we hear, and also key reports.  We’ve seen this helps trigger new ideas and thoughts from community, industry, and recreationalists.  People visit Fiordland for many reasons, and we feel it is important every group is included.

We’ve heard the things you love about Fiordland and Milford Sound Piopiotahi.  We’ve also heard many of you talk about the things you like and things you dislike both in the masterplan and more generally.  We heard from the Deerstalkers that access is a major concern to them. We’ve heard this from the community, climbers and recreational groups more widely. While we talk a great deal about international visitors to this place, our focus is very much on outcomes that work for New Zealand and New Zealanders.

We always appreciate people telling us what’s going well, what might work better for you – please keep the feedback coming!

As we head into 2024, I hope you enjoy the next few weeks however you’re planning to spend the festive season, whether you’re at work or are having a break.

Ngā mihi

Chris Goddard

Milford Opportunities Programme Director

Director’s message