Showing posts with label Milford Sound. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Milford Sound. Show all posts

Wednesday, 31 May 2017

My 'take' on rising tourism numbers

How many is too many, or the tale of uncontrolled growth...

As you may (or may not) be aware New Zealand is in the midst of a massive tourism boom. In 2008 2.5 million people visited this country.  In 2016 that number was over 3.5 million, by 2020 it is forecast to reach 5 million!

Visitor arrivals by country of origin, Source from web


The vast majority of these people come to New Zealand for the scenic beauty we are world known for. Unfortunately this is causing severe strain on both our environment and infrastructure.

Example One: The Tongariro Crossing

A good example of this potential damage is the Tongariro Crossing. It is in a unique and very delicate eco system- yet is jammed to the rafters with people. 

When I walked the crossing back in the 1990s the only people on the track were me and the 6 guys with me. We didn't see another party for the whole day. Now 1000 people typically walk the track on a fine summer day.  Last year the total number of visitors was over 120 000.

Tongariro Crossing: The image...

The overseas media image of this track (and New Zealand as a whole) is of an largely empty unspoiled wilderness, yet in reality you will be surrounded by a crowd for most of the time. Tongariro is an extreme example but many other places (The Coromandel Peninsula, Mt Cook, Fiordland, Abel Tasman NP, Mt Taranaki, small SI rural townships) face similar problems.


Tongariro Crossing: the Reality...!

Example two: Milford Sound

Milford Sound is considered by many to be the premier scenic destination in New Zealand. Unfortunately it is basically inaccessible to the majority of New Zealanders due to crowding.  There are crowds; on the roads, on the tracks and at the Sound itself.

When the bookings for the 2017-2018 Milford Track season opened recently 99% of possible places from November-April were gone within 4 hours! 

Crowds mean waste, which means money- DOC spent over $250 000 emptying the toilets on the Milford Track in 2016. That is the cost of a new 12 bunk hut, or maintaining 10-20 existing huts..spent on moving excrement!

Buses at Milford Sound, from twogotikitouring

I talked to a German tourist last year who had visited Milford Sound while in Fiordland. He said that he counted 36 buses as well as over 50 camper vans on the day he was there. He said all you could hear were planes, helicopters, vehicles and people. 
How is that scenic?

 What I think about this...

Firstly, I'm not against tourism- I love inter-acting with overseas visitors when I tramp. I also realise how important tourism is to our economy but something has to change. Clearly these numbers are unsustainable in our environment and damage our international reputation.

 Hey I have already had overseas trampers tell me they hate the crowds- and they are telling their friends, family etc not to come here.

My main problem is the current lack of a strategic plan to tackle this: all I hear are schemes to garner more $$$ from tourists not deal with the underlying issue of numbers. Raising the price of Great Walks (for example) will not deter international visitors. It will just make it even more difficult for Kiwis to visit their own iconic locations because it is unaffordable.



The solution: a range of  things including spreading the load, border taxes, preferential charges, more/higher charges for services and unfortunately limiting numbers in the worst affected places. 

Here is one solution: fund DOC at a realistic level so they can actually do the stuff they are supposed to be doing. The creep towards commercialism in DOC is dangerous. They are the gate keepers of our outdoors, if their sole reason for being is to raise money why do we need them? Perhaps this is actually the governments plan...no DOC,  just Tourism Inc. in charge.

Fancy a visit to New Zealand World anyone...?

You can help!


 We have an election this year- use your vote to send a clear message that you do not agree with what is happening. Take one for Team New Zealand folks- forget about what goodies YOU are being offered and vote for the party that sounds like they actually want to do something about this idiocy.

Come on people stop complaining and act before it is too late.