Milford Opportunities newsletter

19 April 2024

Welcome to our April newsletter

Kia ora and welcome to the April edition of the Milford Opportunities Newsletter. It’s been a busy few weeks since you last heard from us.

Milford Opportunities Board representative Michael Skerrett, Conservation Minister Tama Potaka, and MP for Southland Joseph Mooney at Mirror Lakes.

On 11 March Conservation Minister Tama Potaka visited Piopiotahi Milford Sound for the first time. The Minister took a flight in, returning via road in a mini bus. He experienced first-hand the size and grandeur of the place, the history and stories, the people and the remoteness.  He took time to look through Cascade Creek, Knobs Flat and Mirror lakes along the journey back. He indicated that he really valued the experience and meeting with community members, tourism operators and mana whenua to better understand the place, it’s people and the work of the project.

Minister Potaka and Tourism & Hospitality Minister Matt Doocey make up the Ministerial Oversight Group for the Milford Opportunities Project. Both Ministers have now fulfilled their expressed desire to visit Milford Sound Piopiotahi during the summer peak.

The Ministers took the time to experience very different journeys. Minister Doocey came by car on the road, experienced a cruise and met with tourism operators. This provides a broader knowledge base as they review the Milford Opportunities Business case when it lands with them late June.

Hub still open, just call first

While there is no longer anyone on the hub front desk now we are in the quieter Autumn months, everyone is welcome to come and visit the project with questions, feedback or context. Please just phone or email ahead. The best contacts are John Twidle 021 442 897, or Phil Tisch, 027 660 2518,

As Stage 3 Phase 1 of the project wraps up, the Milford Opportunities hub is due to close at the end of June 2024.

If you can’t make it in to talk face to face, get in touch online Contact us – Milford Opportunities

Ngā mihi

Chris Goddard
Programme Director

Milford Opportunities Project Hub in Te Anau

Update from Milford Opportunities Board Chair Jenn Bestwick

University of Otago Policy School public lecture on Milford Opportunities

Jenn Bestwick

Last month I was invited to deliver a public lecture on the Milford Opportunities Project at the University of Otago’s Tourism Policy School in Queenstown.

The talk titled ‘Identifying regenerative tourism solutions for Piopiotahi Milford Sound’ looked at our work to unpick deep-seated tourism challenges and find positive solutions for the place, its people and visitors alike. It was great to share this work with tourism experts from across the country and exciting to see the high level of interest this project holds for the industry.

The Tourism Policy School was a two-day event to foster conversations between people across the tourism industry, from local business owners and community leaders to national policymakers and researchers. This year’s theme of ‘Connecting the Dots: Fostering a cohesive and connected tourism system’ was closely aligned with the work of the Milford Opportunities Project.

I spoke about the need to better manage Piopiotahi/Milford Sound as a taonga, while ensuring its legacy is preserved and connection to place, biodiversity, landscapes and people remain central to its tourism reputation.

Stunning, healthy, natural landscapes are at the core of the Milford Sound’s status as a jewel in the New Zealand tourism crown and anchor the area’s tourism economy and its communities. While day trippers continue to enjoy this place, we have an opportunity to deliver a more regenerative tourism system where visitors make a greater contribution to its nature and infrastructure.

There is general consensus that a few fundamentals must be addressed if this place is going to continue to sustain thriving nature, communities and businesses over the long-term.

  • Ongoing investment into conservation and appropriate infrastructure achieved through introducing an international access levy. This would place a higher value on visiting Piopiotahi, support New Zealand’s international brand of valuing our nature. Many visitors want to contribute appropriately to the places they visit.
  • Managing access by encouraging day visitors to travel to Piopiotahi via bus or guided tour, rather than taking a private car, and to spread visitation to avoid peak times. This would protect area’s natural tranquillity and offer a far safer, richer and more environmentally friendly option for visitors.
  • Delivering a more seamless world class visitor experience with our natural and cultural heritage at its heart. Weaving Ngāi Tahu’s story into the experience and providing targeted activities to enhance and slow down the journey.

How we achieve this with minimal impact on the needs of locals, operators and recreational users is key but also challenging. While change is never simple or easy, it is needed as visitors are forecast to reach 1.1 million in the next six years.

Engagement update

Engagement & Communications Lead Phil Tisch

In the last update we mentioned we were in the process of setting up one-on-one engagements to test our thinking with operators and subject matter experts. These sessions are well underway and have been really informative. So far, we have talked to a range of small, medium and large tourism operators, regional and national tourism organisations, recreational groups, conservation interests and community.

We continue to be humbled by people’s generosity with their time and knowledge in these engagement sessions. They are so vital to us providing the best advice to ministers that we can and ensuring options are well-aligned with your needs and expectations for Piopiotahi Milford Sound.

Discussions have focussed on how to manage access using a range of different tools. At one end of the spectrum, proposed methods would encourage visitors to make different transport choices, while at the other, many visitors would be required to take particular transport options. In general, there is good support for greater use of coaches and buses on the road by day visitors.

In addition to advice on managed access, we are also receiving suggestions on how the levy should be applied, and ideas for improving oversight, governance and management.

Given the nature of these conversations and to maintain anonymity, individual business or stakeholder views are being treated as confidential.

However, we welcome all feedback and will hold the following drop-in sessions where anyone can book time to come into the hub or join an online meeting with us:

Te Anau drop in dates:

Come and see us any time between 3-6 pm on Tuesday 30 April and Wednesday 22 May at the Te Anau Project Hub 26 Town Centre.

You can just show up or phone or email ahead: Phil Tisch, 027 660 2518,

Piopiotahi Milford Sound community updates

Thanks to all those who attended our last Piopiotahi Milford Sound community update at the Southern Discoveries Café on 9 April. It was a full-on day for Piopiotahi residents at the beginning of some significant weather for the region, so we really appreciate the effort to come listen and share your thoughts. I’ll include a summary of what you told us in the next newsletter.

We will be back in Milford Sound to provide you with another update on Wednesday 22 May 5pm.