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Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson talks to pilot Giles de Garnham of Glacier Helicopters during a snow landing on the Franz Josef Glacier on Sunday March 28 CREDIT: Southern PR
Pictured on the Franz Josef Glacier are (L to R) Wayne Costello, Area Manager – Poumanahere, Franz Josef Waiau Area; Gavin Rodley, Private Secretary for Conservation; Hon Kate Wilkinson, Minister of Conservation; Mike Slater, Conservator, West Coast CREDIT: Southern PR
Tim Cossar, Chief Executive of the Tourism Industry Association and Minister of Conservation Kate Wilkinson with two rare juvenile rowi kiwi that were released into the wild as part of DoC's 50th anniversary celebrations CREDIT: Southern PR
Tourism investment, mining, freedom camping and recreation activities versus commercial were among issues raised at the Totally Tourism West Coast Tourism Forum held at Franz Josef on Saturday (March 27).
The forum was part of the Westland Tai Poutini National Park 50th anniversary celebrations, attracting Minister of Conservation the Hon Kate Wilkinson to the coast for the weekend.
The day after the forum, which was attended by about 70 members of the public and local operators, Ms Wilkinson and DoC officials took a scenic flight onto the Franz Josef Glacier with pilot Giles de Garnham of Glacier Helicopters, one of the companies in the Totally Tourism Group.
“It gave the Minister the perfect opportunity to see for herself how a commercial operator works hand in hand with the Department of Conservation,” said Totally Tourism managing director Mark Quickfall.
“We often apply rules to our commercial activities that are completely voluntary, in conjunction with the Mount Cook and Westland National Parks Resident Users Group. These include observing minimum height levels over the glacier and establishing ‘No Fly’ zones in some valleys and areas to keep disturbance to other users to a minimum.
“We are trialling the Eurocopter EC 130 the minister flew in, which has the advantages of being quiet, with an encased tail rotor, and being able to take seven passengers, one more than most, meaning potentially fewer flights over this sensitive area.
“This could be a US$2 million investment for our company, so it was good to talk to the Minister about being awarded concessions with long enough terms to encourage operators to make investments of this size.”
Mr Quickfall said many of those who attended the forum had reached some ‘broad brush’ agreements about looking after national parks and conservation land so they could hand it on to the next generation in a good state.
“It wasn’t so long ago that most people just wanted to look at our stunning environment. Now they want to ski it, walk it or land on it, and we’re happy to help them do that in such a way that they appreciate and respect this land.”