Give visitors choice on the Milford Corridor
Creating a Milford Corridor experience for visitors is another goal for the governance group. It is suggesting the Milford Corridor experience be improved to strengthen the options available to visitors. Ideas under consideration include:
Upgrade short stop options along Milford Road corridor
Increase the range and quality of short-stop areas that visitors can stop at. In most instances these sites are already established close to the road but lack appropriate interpretation, (eg. Lake Gunn Walk) small loop tracks, viewing areas and cultural narrative. Improvements would be aimed at enabling greater accessibility for those with mobility restrictions (such as disabled, older adults and children). An objective would be to let the widest possible range of visitors feel the wairua (spirit) of the place.
Enhance the Cascade Creek campsite
Camping opportunities along the Milford Corridor are in high demand. Through improved landscaping and some additional infrastructure, such as toilets, existing camping opportunities can be expanded and enhanced at Cascades Creek. Because of flooding risks this site is not considered appropriate for other facilities (such as small cabins).
Investigate options in the upper and lower Hollyford Valley
In appropriate locations minimal impact road end/track enhancements, extensions and/or new tracks could be established. This could form part of reconnecting the Whakatipu Trail. It also links to the idea of creating a super track head.
Homer Tunnel portals (short stop)
This strong well engineered observation portal (sheltered from rock and avalanche risks) would offer a safe viewing location on the Milford Sound Piopiotahi side of the Homer tunnel. It would offer good sightlines over the alpine environment and into Piopiotahi and the best opportunity for passive (non-interactive) observation of kea.
Create a super track head within the Divide area
This iconic new visitor node would include interpretation, toilets and a shelter and new track sections. It centralises access, linking numerous longer tracks together. It also potentially facilitates access to a series of shorter walks and key observation points, such as Key Summit. For mana whenua it represents a modern reinstatement of the Whakatipu Trail and serves as a wānanga (living classroom) for Ngāi Tahu. It recognises ngā ara tawhito (trails) which are an integral part of Ngāi Tahu culture. The technical challenges of achieving this concept are significant and implementation would be dependent on a detailed feasibility analysis.
Develop the Knobs Flat experience hub
Knobs Flat has the potential to be a key interpretive hub for the Milford Road experience. This could involve the development of a series of covered shelters containing interpretation displays, pūrākau, interpretive nature trails, observation points and a network of loop tracks. Much of the current footprint at Knobs Flat is already highly modified but is close to forests of high conservation value.
Develop the Knobs Flat accommodation hub
Because of its location and modified site footprint, Knobs Flat has the potential to become a key accommodation location along the Milford Road. With improved landscaping, the site could be developed to accommodate tent and campervan sites and simple cabins. Potential also exists for a lodge to be developed and for cultural elements to be expressed via the built landscape.
Create a strong national park entry where the road enters Fiordland National Park
The objective of this idea is to clearly define the transition into Fordland National Park and give visitors a sense of crossing a threshold. This crossing over experience comes with an expectation on visitors that they will adopt appropriate behaviours when inside the park because they are now somewhere different – somewhere special. The threshold could be marked in many different ways such as with sculptural elements, kūwaha, signage and/or landscaping.