FMC President Robin McNeill says the Department of Conservation’s proposal to ignore daily helicopter landing limits on the Ngapunatoru Plateau above Milford Sound will have visitors hard pressed to hear the sandflies over the continual din of helicopters. DOC intends to increase the allowed landings from ten to 80 per day. “Every fine day there will be 160 over-flights ruining the wilderness experience for trampers and climbers in the Pembroke Wilderness Area and the Darrans Remote Area. Even the tourists at Milford Sound won’t escape”, says Mr McNeill. “You may as well commune with nature beside the Auckland motorway.”
That the proposed increase is well above the daily limit spelt out in the Fiordland National Park Management Plan also annoys Federated Mountain Clubs. “DOC tells us that they can allow the increase by calling it research,” says Mr McNeill. “That has the credibility of Japanese whalers saying that they are doing research.”
McNeill says there is an even bigger picture to worry about. 500,000 tourists visit Milford Sound each year. Most of them will never climb aboard a helicopter. “It seems odd that no-one but FMC is even thinking of advocating for the average tourist and how they can best enjoy the wilderness that can still be found at our premier tourist destination. Milford Sound should be the last, loneliest and loveliest corner of the globe. It needs sustainable transport solutions, improved accommodation, new tourism and recreational experiences that don’t shatter the natural quiet. There could be increased restaurants and backpackers’ accommodation, maybe even a gondola and a via ferrata. Milford Sound’s future should not be limited by helicopters”.
Robin McNeill FMC President – Contact: 021516366