Once again we are discussing expanding the tourism opportunities of Fiordland National park by investigating a road or rail link from the N/W end of Lake Wakatipu where the Rees and Dart rivers enter the lake to Milford Sound crossing the Holyford River opening up another small area of the largely hidden National Parks. Glenorchy the proposed start point for many of the proposals is at present well served by an upgraded road and the SS Earnslaw.
At present the "tourist trail travels south from Queenstown into Northern Southland then back N/W to Milford through Te Anau. It begins and ends in Qtown
Not for the first time this idea has been raised and again a concerted chorus of opposition is making noise in an attempt to deny progress for nearly as many nefarious reasons as there are squeals.
Te Anau has never caught the imagination of the present 'Trail' as by and large nearly all just pass through only pausing to relieve themselves.
Those with the means eg money for a helicopter, the fitness to walk or mountain bike, want to for some reason that escapes me to exclude the rest of us real and potential tourists from any roads or the now suggested railtrack through tunnels, across rivers and through native bush and deny the opportunity to view that spectacular scenery to the mobility constrained New Zealanders and tourists from the world.
Fiordland National park plus Mt Aspiring National Park, both are involved, total over 1.6 million Hectares and this current proposal wont total more than say 300 Ha, little more than .02%.
How does the rail corridor of the "Transalpine" impact as visual pollution compared to the thousands apon thousands of Hectares it makes available for viewing as a jewel in the crown of Kiwirail, albeit largely financed by the dreaded coal trains without the income stream of which, would go the way of all other branch lines.
Others argue we will lose the world heritage status of Fiordland National Park, bullshit to that, there are already roads, tunnels, a hotel and tourist activities including walkways such as the iconic "Milford Track" complete with sandflies, what difference will a separate rail system matter.
It is called progress I remember when the fertile productive farmland of the Te Anau Basin was just seemingly endless acres of dead manuka scrub, killed by a blight, and it was as exciting as the endless gumlands of the Australian "bush". It is today another example of progress for the betterment of us all but it involved "change".
Te Anau wont necessarily die as many will travel the rail and return by bus or vice versa, The nimby obstructives should see the half full glass, accept that Milford Sound with its rainfall, land constraints and seismic threats, will always be a day trip for most and figure out how to market the additional options of Lake Te Anau, Lake Manapouri, the glowworm caves, Deep Cove and Doubtful Sound to get the daytrippers that churn through on a day trip from Queenstown, leaving only effluent, to stay over and see some more of what is a unique and very precious scenic adventure.
We are still discussing less than .5% of the total area of the freekin parks.