Milford Discovery Centre and Milford Deep Underwater Observatory re-open in time for school holidays
A hugely popular Milford Sound attraction will be welcoming back children and families in time for the New Zealand school holidays after Mother Nature caused it to close earlier this year.
Multi-award-winning tourism operator Southern Discoveries has announced that the Milford Discovery Centre and Milford Deep Underwater Observatory will be open and operating from tomorrow (Saturday 8th October).
The centre and observatory were forced to close in July after a severe storm battered the landing pontoon causing significant structural damage and leaving it unsafe to berth vessels.
While the pontoon was damaged, the Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory did not suffer any structural damage in the storm.
The observatory’s prized black coral beds were also undamaged as they were lowered into deeper water before the storm hit.
Because of the damage to the pontoon, neither attraction could be accessed by members of the public visiting via cruise boats in the sound.
Southern Discoveries’ General Manager John Robson said the 33m floating pontoon was recovered from the waters of Milford Sound and trucked to Wanaka by road where it has spent the past few months being repaired by Wanaka Marine.
“It weighs 17tonne and is a fairly large structure that needed four truck and trailer units to get it out to Wanaka and back again,” said Mr Robson.
“Re-attaching it to the Discovery Centre has been a feat in itself, as it is a 33m long, 7m wide wooden deck supported by two large pontoons. Re-attaching it took four days to ensure it meets all safety standards and will withstand any storm Mother Nature can throw at us for the next few decades!”
Mr Robson said the re-opening of the Discovery Centre and Underwater Observatory was perfect timing for the school holidays, as children holidaying with parents or caregivers travelled free on all Southern Discoveries’ cruises and could visit the Discovery Centre for free from October 8 to 24.
“Milford Sound is an experience for the whole family, so our Kids Go Free offer makes it so affordable to take a day trip and explore Fiordland National Park and spectacular Milford Sound,” he said.
“All of our Scenic and Encounter Nature cruises during the holidays are free for children aged four to 14, and it’s so easy to add on the Milford Discovery Centre, also free for children and an educational, unique and fun experience.”
The Underwater Observatory incorporates Milford Deep, New Zealand’s only floating underwater observatory.
Together they provide a unique, rich educational resource of information about the world renowned fjord and its human and natural history. The development is the only structure of its kind in the Piopiotahi (Milford Sound) Marine Reserve and visitors descend more than 10m below the surface to marvel at spectacular marine life in its natural habitat.
To qualify for the Kids Go Free offer, children must be accompanied by a full fare paying adult.