Fiordland National Park located in the south west corner of NZ has often been described as the eigth wonder of the world. Home to the world-renowned Routeburn, Kepler and Milford Tracks and awe inspiring Doubtful and Milford Sounds, this UNESCO World Heritage area is now under attack.
The Department of Conservation is currently considering a decision to grant concession to developers for the construction of the Milford Dart Tunnel and the Fiordland Link Experience Monorail. This decision would go against current legislation and poses numerous environmental and safety risks. Opponents fear that the tunnel and the monorail will damage the region's reputation as a UNESCO World Heritage area.
The recently formed Save Fiordland Campaign is fighting back. It is comprised of numerous individuals committed to the protection of Te Wahipounamu World Heritage Area. They represent a wide cross-section of the Southland community and beyond; coming from diverse backgrounds and representing many different occupations and interest groups.
In June 2012 the Fiordland Community elected 12 members to the Save Fiordland executive board. One of those elected was Distinction Hotels owner Geoff Thomson, who has a chain of hotels in a number of picturesque NZ locations including Queenstown and Te Anau.
Mr Thomson believes that developments will not only affect Te Anau but will change the flow of tourism across the whole of the south. He responded to criticism that local businesses may be fearful of competition by saying the tunnel and monorail developments will fail to add to the established economy in Te Anau.
“Te Anau and the other smaller communities would end up as ghost towns and even Queenstown would suffer from "hit and run tourism", Mr Thomson said.
"We need tourists to spend longer in the south not be ushered in and out in a day," he said.
To learn more about Distinction Hotel’s involvement with Save Fiordland as it continues its campaign against the development of a tunnel and monorail in the region please visit www.savefiordland.org.nz.