Milford Opportunities Newsletter

1 March 2024

Director’s update

Kia ora koutou 

First, a big thank you to all of you who have dropped into the Milford Opportunities Project Hub, talked to us in Milford Sound Piopiotahi, in Te Anau, Invercargill, Queenstown and those further away who called and emailed. 

With more than 1000 engagements so far, in this phase of the project, your help is appreciated and more importantly vital for feasibility testing the Milford Opportunities Masterplan.  With less than 20 weeks to go options are coming together quickly for the business case.  The benefits to recreational visitors, international visitors, communities, businesses, and others are important to get right, underpinned by realistic costs and timeframes.  These give ministers some robust choices when we deliver the report at the end of June 2024. 

I ran into a few of you last week when I was taking some people into Milford Sound Piopiotahi and had a great opportunity to see what one of the busier days here can be like.   

It’s easy to see the awe and enjoyment visitors have in this natural wonder, including on those peak days. Milford Opportunities is focussed on how best we might strengthen and support that experience into the future with visitor numbers predicted to rise. Seeing the opportunities and the hot spots adds to the feedback you’ve given, and the research and testing done around the masterplan. 

Hearing your input remains important to the project. We’ll be undertaking targeted engagement over March and April, but encourage people to continue to reach out directly with any thoughts or questions.  What do you want to see for this place? How do you want to spend time here? The project hub is open Monday to Friday and the website is an option if you can’t make it in to talk face to face: Contact us – Milford Opportunities   

Chris Goddard
Milford Opportunities Programme Director 

Milford Opportunities Ministerial Oversight Group

The Ministerial Oversight Group for the project is now comprised of Conservation Minister Tama Potaka, and Tourism & Hospitality and Associate Transport Minister, Matt Doocey.

Chris Goddard meeting Tourism and Hospitality Minister Matt Doocey and MP for Southland Joseph Mooney.
Chris Goddard meeting with Tourism and Hospitality Minister Matt Doocey and MP for Southland Joseph Mooney.

Both ministers have expressed their anticipation of our report back to them in June.  

Minister Doocey visited the project, stakeholders and Piopiotahi last month, taking time to understand the context and challenges of safeguarding this conservation and tourism gem into the future. 

The project will continue to provide regular updates and briefings for the two ministers over the coming months. 

Workstream updates

Policy & Legislation

Silke Radde and Jess Henderson

This workstream is focused on understanding the policy and legislative implications arising for the Milford Opportunities Masterplan recommendations. 

This includes understanding what the existing legal frameworks enable; the implications of the proposals on people’s rights, and interests, and on conservation values; and what alternative policy options may support the masterplan’s objectives. 

Our feasibility testing work last year confirmed that several proposals in the masterplan, such as managing road access and charging international visitors for access, will require legislative change. Legislative changes are decisions for Cabinet and Parliament. 

We are continuing to undertake detailed feasibility testing across key policy issues including managing access, charging international visitors for access, commercial activity, cruise ships and the aerodrome.  

The business case will provide a range of options for decision makers and so we are developing and testing a range of policy options for ministers’ consideration.  

For example, there are options to ease road congestion, improve safety, and enhance the visitor experience that may not require a permit and public transport system to manage access.  

As the core policy elements of the range of options are well understood, we will be undertaking targeted engagement with community, conservation, tourism and recreation stakeholders.  


Workstream updates

Workstream updates continued…

Masterplan illustration
Masterplan illustration

Tourism & Visitor Experience

Tania Short and Jock Edmondson

Feasibility testing of the Milford Opportunities Masterplan needs to consider how well the plan’s concepts work for visitors and fit within the tourism system.   

The Tourism & Visitor Experience Workstream is assessing the masterplan as a system with infrastructure, agencies, iwi, tourism operators and communities all contributing to deliver the visitor experience.   

We are currently focused on how well the proposed interventions resolve visitor congestion and disperse visitors.   

The next phase of work relates to market research into slow tourism and tourism alignment.     

Infrastructure & Transport

Simon Moran, Courtney Hart and Tom Hopkins

The Transport & Infrastructure Workstream is supporting the other workstreams with independent research into the technical feasibility of the masterplan’s proposals including any proposed visitor and recreation facilities (such as cycleways), transport options and energy production.

Masterplan illustration
Masterplan illustration

Analysis is starting to come in with Stantec Ltd having completed their analysis of energy sources which are limited to options such as hydropower given the abundance of water (as opposed to sun) in the area. Boffa Miskell is finalising the landscape values and environmental values assessments.  

Likewise, Southern Land Ltd are finishing their walking & cycling experiences feasibility assessment. 

WSP’s engineering feasibility assessment information gathering, and review stage is complete and all teams are underway with their assessment work (natural hazard and long-term climate change risk, three waters infrastructure, geotechnical, contaminated land, sustainability, statutory planning, cost estimation). 

Beca Ltd have been working closely with us to determine the magnitude of a park and ride and if it is feasible.  They have come up with some initial options which will now be refined and developed.  

The transport technology Request for Information has gone out and we are looking forward to hearing what the market can tell us.  Elsewhere we have been engaging with suppliers of software to other national parks around the world. 

Thanks to those of you who have assisted with creating and reviewing these reports.  



Phil Tisch

The next two months are going to be busy for the team and crunch time for engagement with our June project deadline firmly in sight.

In March and April we will be undertaking targeted engagement with subject matter experts (tourism industry, conservation bodies, recreational interests, local communities and businesses). Our first two engagement topics will be managed access and how to collect and administer the levy.

We’re intending to share what we have learned and check our thinking through a range of workshops, webinars and one on ones with subject matter experts.  This will ensure that a fully informed business case containing a range of robust options is ready to submit to Cabinet by the end of June.   

Remember, you can drop in to our Te Anau Project Hub (26 Town Centre) for an update. March 2024 opening hours are:

  • Monday to Friday – 10am to 3pm
  • Thursday – 3pm to 7pm

Or you are welcome to share your thoughts with us at any time: 

Contact us – Milford Opportunities 



Thanks to all those who have supported this work so far

Since the last newsletter, our engagement programme has focussed in on two areas:   

  1. gaining feedback from experts on key aspects of our feasibility work, and
  2. touching base with stakeholders who haven’t heard from us in a while.

A good example of this is the great work groups such as Fish & Game, Federated Mountain Clubs and various park users have done to provide comment on the proposed cycle way. Groups and individuals have offered up some really useful insights and this information will be used to help refine proposals to be included in the final options report to Ministers. 

In other engagements, a number of tour operators have mentioned that while visitor numbers are slightly down on pre-covid levels, visitors are returning to Piopiotahi in large numbers and this is helping businesses recover following the tough times of the COVID lock-downs.  In some cases, record visitor numbers are being experienced but the picture is mixed.  Feedback from aviators suggests that many visitors are choosing to fly, despite adverse weather resulting in fewer flyable days. 

Discussions are continuing with representatives of cruise, Federated Mountain Clubs, Fiordland Marine Guardians, the Conservation Authority and Conservation Board, small, medium and large tourism businesses, and local and central government agencies including Tourism New Zealand. 


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