Roading Amendment to National Park Management Plan is declined

Media release: 13 December 2007

The New Zealand Conservation Authority has declined to approve an amendment to the Mount Aspiring National Park Management Plan, allowing for the construction of a new road and tunnel within Mount Aspiring National Park.

The Otago Conservation Board had recommended that the Conservation Authority amend part of section 8.14 of the Mount Aspiring Park plan.

The amended policy would read (changes in bold):
”There will be no increase in the extent of formed roads within the existing park boundaries except for a road (if approved through the concession process) branching off the Routeburn Road for approximately 1.5km above ground then into a tunnel through to the Hollyford Road, for use only by vehicles specifically authorised by a concession for use on the road.

This means the plans of the Milford Dart Company to build a bus tunnel from part of the Routeburn Road to the Hollyford Valley, cannot now proceed, because their activities would not be consistent with the Aspiring management plan. (They would still have to apply for a concession, if the amendment had been approved.)

The requirements of the National Parks Act are that while the public is given freedom of entry and access to the national parks, this is subject to the preservation of park values and the Act states that parks shall be preserved, as far as possible in their natural state.

The Conservation Authority reached the conclusion for a number of reasons. Particular concerns of the Authority were that the proposed road would not contribute to the use and enjoyment of Mount Aspiring National Park, and nor was it demonstrated that it would address the issue of perceived overcrowding at Milford Sound.  In the light of its concerns the Authority concluded that the adverse effects of the construction and use of the road in the National Park outweighed any benefits.

The NZ Conservation Authority is set up to advise the Minister of Conservation and the Director-General of Conservation but it also has decision making powers in respect to conservation management strategies, and national park plans. It is a 13 member body appointed by the Minister of Conservation.

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New Zealand Conservation Authority
PO Box 10420
Wellington 6143
Telephone: +64 4 471 3289
Fax: +64 4 381 3057
Email: nzca@doc.govt.nz