West Coast tourism gets big PGF boost

West Coast tourism will benefit from an $87.46 million investment from the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF), Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced today.

With funding for five tourism initiatives within the Buller district and a new premium service and extra capacity on KiwiRail’s world-renowned TranzAlpine Great Journey of New Zealand, this investment will strengthen the entire region’s appeal to visitors from New Zealand and overseas.

“The PGF funding will develop and grow tourism options that showcase the unique West Coast culture and environment at the heart of this project,” said Shane Jones.

“A million people visit the West Coast every year and with that number set to grow, we want to make the most of the opportunity by ensuring visitors to Buller and the region stay longer and spend more.”

The projects receiving funding are:

  • $40m for a new premium service additional capacity for the TranzAlpine service
  • $25.6m redevelopment at Dolomite Point in Punakaiki, focusing on improved visitor facilities and visitor experience
  • $9.36m to build the family-friendly Kawatiri Coastal Trail between Westport and Charleston
  • $5.7m to improve visitor facilities and environmental protection at Oparara Arches in Karamea
  • $3.3m loan to build hot pools and spa facilities above Punakaiki Resort
  • $3.5m to upgrade Croesus Road at the Blackball end of the new Paparoa Great Walk and Pike29 Memorial Trail

“Punakaiki is one of New Zealand’s most popular and spectacular tourist destinations and with visitor numbers set to increase, infrastructure needs to be modernised to secure the integrity of the site and the experience on offer.

“This investment will not only improve visitor experiences and safety at Punakaiki, but also protect the unique environment and cultural significance of these sites by creating more sustainable tourism offerings.”

The investment in KiwiRail will be used to add two more carriages to the TranzAlpine during peak periods and to introduce a premium carriage, offering for more luxurious experience and to upgrade platforms and booking systems. The funding follows PGF’s $40m investment to boost the Coastal Pacific service that was announced last week.

“Tourism is the second highest contributor to the West Coast economy and to see greater value from that sector, we want visitors to the region to stay longer and do more. This $87m is about investing in quality tourism experiences that will help make that happen.

“As outlined in the draft Aotearoa New Zealand Tourism Strategy, this Government is committed to ensuring all New Zealanders benefit from productive, sustainable and inclusive tourism growth. We also identify the need to provide infrastructure that helps us protect the special places people come to visit like the taonga that is our West Coast conservation land.

“This investment is a Government partnership with the West Coast, boosting sustainable economic development while building on the resilience and integrity of this special community,” Shane Jones said.