Oscar-winning film director Jane Campion and a Queenstown tourism boss are lending heavyweight opposition to a controversial Milford Sound short-cut.
Private company Milford Dart has proposed an 11.3km tunnel from the Routeburn Road near Glenorchy to the Hollyford Valley.
Campion, a Glenorchy property owner, says it’s “an outrage and a serious dereliction of duty” that the Department of Conservation is even considering the $170 million tunnel
Meanwhile, Philip Jenkins – long-time manager of international award-winning Glenorchy lodge Blanket Bay – has written to Prime Minister and Tourism Minister John Key, telling him the tunnel risks derailing New Zealand’s ‘100% pure’ tourism brand.
Tourism risk: Blanket Bay boss Philip Jenkins
The bus-only tunnel – which DoC has allowed in principle subject to consultation – would slash five hours off the nine-hour road trip from Queenstown to Milford and back.
Campion – who recently shot her Top of the Lake TV mini-series in the area – accuses DoC of potentially allowing the destruction of original forest and defacing nature within Mount Aspiring National Park.
In a statement from Glenorchy’s Stop the Tunnel group, Campion claims: “The beauty, peace and atmosphere at the entrance to the park will be destroyed.
“I vigorously protest this proposed tunnel and DoC’s ostensible readiness to even consider it.”
Art contest in protest
Monorail and tunnel protesters have launched an art competition to further their cause.
The Creative Artworks Competition coincides with an exhibition and sale of donated art to raise funds for Te Anau-based campaign group Save Fiordland.
Te Anau campaigner Kit Ghata says: “The challenge is to make a piece of art that expresses the extreme nature of these proposals.”
The competition judging, art exhibition and sale will be held next weekend at The Distinction Hotel, Te Anau.
Campion, who shot to fame with Academy Award-winning movie The Piano, says DoC shouldn’t compromise one natural park for speedier access to another.
“My guess is tourists are visiting NZ for the spectacular unspoilt landscape and the tunnel will in no way increase tourist traffic to NZ.
“Wilderness is a resource increasingly rare and it can never be replaced, only depleted.”
Glenorchy high country farmer Kate Scott welcomes Campion’s support: “As one of NZ’s leading film makers, Government would be wise to listen to her concerns.”
Jenkins’ letter to Key says those who believe tourists will benefit from the shortcut know little about the NZ visitor: “This person comes because of the marketing messages which have been portrayed over the last 25 years.”
The ‘100% Pure NZ’ message is jealously regarded by competing destinations, Jenkins claims.
“All the messages of that campaign ... spell the message of tranquility, serenity, peace, clean green, individuality and quality.
“Speeding up elements of visitor experiences may see a short-term gain but ultimately it’ll kill the goose that lays the golden egg.”
The Stop the Tunnel group recently presented a petition with 25,000 signatures to Parliament.
Conservation Minister Kate Wilkinson, in Parliament this week, said the final decision on the Milford Dart
concession application has been delegated to the department’s director-general.
“[It’ll] ensure a robust process is followed, free from interference, whether political or otherwise,” she said.
Milford Dart director Michael Sleigh argues the tunnel, by cutting travel time, is environmentally responsible.
“We think this is the absolute solution to protect that wilderness by going under it rather than through it.”
Sleigh says Campion’s concern the Routeburn entrance will be destroyed is wrong.
“The portal at the Routeburn end is in a grass paddock. At the other end we’ll be cutting less than half a hectare of trees in contrast to the seven hectares that were removed at Milford Sound village with everyone’s approval recently.”
Sleigh says Jenkins’ concerns are ridiculous.
“We are doing exactly what supports the ‘100% Pure’ brand, the current situation is what undermines it.”
Blight on the landscape
What about the excavated material that's hauled out of the tunnel and dumped in the Hollyford and the constant roar of 60 buses a day roaring through both ends of the Tunnel. Glenorchy is known as a paradise and Idyllic setting because of whats not there - the ugly greed of big money exploitation. Agreed the 100% pure notion is on thin ice but losing the world heritage status to corporate greed won't help matters. This is what NZ will become famous for - destroying the best of what we have, be it the Ross sea or Fiorldand.
21 Sep 2012 08:18AMAlanB
Anyone who truely believes in the 100% pure slogan has the blinkers on. Minimally treated sewerage in waterways (would you drink the Shotover/kawarau water below the outfall?), huge carbon footprints from some activites,noise pollution, the list goes on. All in the Queenstown area.
20 Sep 2012 07:46PMnicham
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