Encouraging visitors to experience the full Milford Sound Piopiotahi story
The Milford Opportunities governance group wants to encourage visitors to stay longer in Milford Sound Piopiotahi and contribute to the local economy by developing a compelling suite of experiences and redesigning the Milford village to reflect its world-class status.
Options being looked at include:
Create a compelling sense of arrival into Piopiotahi
This sense of arrival can be achieved through better landscaping (naturally framing key viewshafts), clearing visual pollution and potentially the introduction of pou whakairo.
Establish a new Piopiotahi visitor hub
This facility plays multiple roles serving as a place of arrival and departure (via bus), a location for booking visitor experiences, a place to eat, a refuge from inclement weather and natural hazards and a place to learn about the wonders of Piopiotahi. It also provides mana whenua a purpose-built space for active transfer of knowledge and use of cultural materials.
Develop new visitor accommodation
This accommodation at a minimum would serve walking tours and other Piopiotahi activities. It is envisaged as being a modest scale accommodation facility (say with 125 beds) with potentially two standards catering for high end and tourist/walker standards.
Redevelop the tourist boat terminal
This idea would see the existing boat terminal redeveloped as a lower profile structure that serves as a transfer terminal building (like an airport) rather than as a visitor centre. Use of the visitor hub for ticketing/validation would reduce the time visitors are waiting in this location.
Restrict access of cruise liners in the inner sound from impacting sight lines of Mitre Peak
This would involve revising policies around cruise liners within Milford Sound Piopiotahi to reduce visual and environmental impacts, smoke emission and tsunami risks.
Remove fixed wing plane runway from Piopiotahi (via a phased withdrawal)
Undertake the phased removal (for example with a three to five-year notice period) of the fixed wing plane runway. This would free up what is very scarce flat space at Piopiotahi for a broad range of visitor uses such as a visitor hub and experience centre, spectacular viewing lines, coastal walks and tracks, and helipads. The use of helicopters would remain.
Develop new walking tracks and observation points in Piopiotahi
These loop walks and observation points would afford views and cultural narration to Bowen Falls, Mitre Peak, Devils Arm, and rivers. There is potential for elevated walks (above the current hotel and to the top of Bowen Falls) that could add spectacular view points to those at sea level.
Establish an interpretive Marine Centre in Piopiotahi
This facility is envisaged to play a key marine education role. It would be used to deliver / reinforce conservation messages and interpret the marine reserve. It would contain a range of open aquarium tanks containing fish, static and interactive interpretation displays, and audio-visual experiences. Mana whenua could be employed in the delivery of mātauranga and kaitiakitanga.
Incorporate the commercial port (Deep Water Basin) into the visitor experience
This idea links the existing commercial operations into the overall visitor experience (rather than attempting to hide this activity). Through a series of walkways and observation points visitors would be able to observe activity and have it interpreted but be kept at a safe distance. The potential also exists to leverage the fresh seafood story by serving seafood.
Relocate resident accommodation
Establishing new resident accommodation would enable better quality, more compact housing to be developed in a safer location and this would free up scarce flat land for visitor purposes.