Hollyford road proposal 'dead'

The Hollyford Track showing the area where the proposed Hollyford road would go near the Pyke...
The Hollyford Track showing the area where the proposed Hollyford road would go near the Pyke River, between Lake Alabaster and the Hollyford River. The view is towards the south, towards Mt Madeline (2537m), the second highest peak in the Fiordland National Park. The proposed road would run left of the river. Photo by Hollyford Track Guided Walk
A Ministerial report has "killed dead" the proposed $315 million Haast-Hollyford road, Forest and Bird Society national advocate Kevin Hackwell said yesterday.

Mr Hackwell now hopes "somebody would put a big fluorescent note on the filing cabinet that the Haast to Milford route is a waste of time, so we won't have this idea pop up in another 10 years".

The Ministry of Economic Development has advised its minister, Gerry Brownlee, the road might only tweak New Zealand's existing tourism product, would not give the tourism industry a new point of difference, would not constitute a nationally significant tourism development and might be in conflict with the 100% Pure New Zealand brand.

Officials from the economic development ministry and the tourism ministry "briefly considered" the proposal "from a tourism economic development perspective . . . based on information currently available".

The name of the report writer has been withheld under the Official Information Act.

"In our view, the proposed [road] would address some of the current issues with access into Milford Sound . . .

"While the road would enhance New Zealand's existing tourism product, it would be more of the same product that we currently offer, rather than shifting tourism up the value chain.

"Given the scale of investment and noting current fiscal pressures, the proposal would have to be weighed against other proposals in the tourism area, such as convention centres.

"There are other options for addressing Milford Sound access and isolation issues.

"These proposals include private initiatives, where government's role would be to address barriers to access, rather than providing direct funding," the report states.

The report was written in January.

Mr Brownlee provided it to the Otago Daily Times last week.

He said he had not known it had been completed and was in his office at the time he made supportive comments about the proposal to this newspaper in January.

Mr Brownlee said then significant support was needed before he would promote it to Cabinet, but he believed the proposal was being more actively considered than at any other time in its history.

Last week, he said he still personally supported the initiative but "there was no particular appetite for advancing it".

He did not have plans to take the matter forward.

Proposals for a Haast-Hollyford road have been circulating since the 1860s and have been presented to previous National government administrations.

Mr Hackwell said he wished politicians would "stop flogging the same old dead horse".

Forest and Bird members would be pleased to read the report, he said.


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