Ministers outline next phase of Milford Opportunities Project

Conservation Tourism

The Milford Opportunities Project is entering its next phase following a productive visit to Piopiotahi to hear directly from tourism operators, iwi and the unit undertaking feasibility planning, says Conservation Minister Poto Williams.

In June 2021 Cabinet approved $15 million to fund the next stage of the Milford Opportunities Project, including establishing a unit to undertake feasibility planning, a MOP Board to guide the unit, and a Ministerial Group (comprising the Conservation, Tourism and Associate Transport Ministers) to oversee it.

Conservation Minister Poto Williams said the next phase of Milford Opportunities Project is to stringently test the recommendations of the Milford Opportunities Masterplan delivered last year.

"While there are elements of the masterplan’s recommendations to consider, there is strong support for the purpose of this work—to protect and restore Piopiotahi and ensure an outstanding visitor experience." said Poto Williams.

"The masterplan outlined some innovative, aspirational and challenging recommendations for overcoming tourism pressures and better honouring the area’s significant natural and cultural heritage. However, its recommendations are not a fait accompli.”

"Considerable assessment, feasibility testing and planning work is now needed, including an extensive programme of consultation with stakeholders and the public."

Since the masterplan’s delivery, the project has focussed on developing structure, systems and processes for the feasibility testing phase.

"Creating a world-class experience at Milford Sound, that manages visitor impacts while supporting local communities, businesses, and Ngāi Tahu, is a key priority for our Government," said Tourism Minister Stuart Nash.

"This work embodies the intent of our Tourism Strategy, which aims for productive, sustainable and inclusive tourism growth, while enriching the people and environment of New Zealand now and into the future."