Next steps taken to deliver Milford Opportunities Project

Conservation Tourism Transport

The board to take the Milford Opportunities Project (MOP) forward has been announced by Minister of Conservation Poto Williams today. 

“The Milford Opportunities Project is a once in a generation chance to reshape the gateway to Milford Sound Piopiotahi and redesign our transport infrastructure to benefit locals, visitors, and our environment.”

“This group is well-placed to take the Milford Opportunities Project forward, bringing a diverse set of skills and values to the table, from mana whenua, business, conservation and governance backgrounds,” Poto Williams said.

Members of the board include mana whenua representatives Muriel Johnstone and Michael Skerrett, alongside Michelle Trapski, Bill Day, and Andrew Patterson, who collectively have extensive knowledge in sustainable tourism, design and management.

“I’m delighted that the board will be chaired by environmental engineer Dr Keith Turner, who has provided strong leadership in the early stages of the project.”

Supporting the board’s expertise and experience are Southland District Council chief executive Cameron McIntosh and Wilma Falconer, the newly appointed chief executive of Environment Southland, as well as senior officials from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Ministry of Transport, and the Department of Conservation.

“Milford Sound Piopiotahi is the jewel in the crown of New Zealand tourism and arguably the eighth wonder of the world,” Tourism Minister Stuart Nash said.

“With 870,000 visitors in 2019, the natural environment and infrastructure at this UNESCO World Heritage site and along the Milford Road were being placed under significant pressure."

“It has become clear that the site has to be managed in a much smarter way,” Poto Williams said.  

“The project to preserve Milford Sound Piopiotahi for future generations is an opportunity to continue the Government’s work of reducing emissions and improving safety and resilience within transport,” Associate Transport Minister Kieran McAnulty said.

Poto Williams acknowledged Dr Turner’s efforts and the work the previous governance group did creating the Milford Opportunities Projects Masterplan.

“The governance group was asked to develop a plan, to transform the way tourism interacts with the environment and conservation. What they achieved is innovative and challenging and now the hard work of feasibility testing and decision-making begins," Poto Williams said.