TOURISM

Monitoring report confirms why Milford is so special

Monday 4 October 2010, 8:14AM
By Environment Southland
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MILFORD

 

Results of a perception survey have confirmed the widely held belief that viewing the natural scenery and landscape is the most valued opportunity among visitors to Milford Sound/Piopiotahi.

With over 500,000 visitors to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi every year, many of the users reported having had a good experience. However, monitoring has found that the experience of several user groups is being impacted upon by some activities, with several thresholds having been exceeded.

Overall, most users said they were not affected by traffic around the village, fishing boats, or other visitors. However, a number of private boaties, hunters/climbers/trampers, and workers felt traffic around the village negatively affected their experience at Milford on that trip;

  • Just over half of the New Zealand visitors completing the survey thought the number of visitors to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi was about right, 26% thought there were a few or far too many visitors;
  • Nearly two-thirds of international visitors completing the survey (63%) thought the number of visitors to Milford Sound / Piopiotahi was about right, 17% thought there were a few or far too many visitors;
  • Planes and helicopters recorded the greatest proportion of negative responses relative to the positive responses received. Visitor responses were not significantly different between February (peak use season) and April (shoulder use season);
  • Cruise boats in Milford Sound / Piopiotahi had no effect upon most people. However, a number of kayakers and divers on a commercial trip, private boaties, and hunters/climbers/trampers felt cruise boats negatively affected their experience at Milford on that trip.

The survey was completed as part of a joint agency project between Environment Southland and the Department of Conservation, which aims to develop an holistic approach to how activities, for which they have statutory responsibility in Fiordland, are managed.


“This report is an important step forward in working with the community to ensure the right management direction for Milford,” says Martin Kessick, Community Relations Manager, Southland Conservancy, Department of Conservation, “It’s about listening to what people consider is most important about Milford, and ensuring the things that make it special are protected.”

The report is the culmination of four years work between the Department of Conservation, Environment Southland and community representatives. It is seen by Environment Southland and the Department of Conservation as well as stakeholder representatives as an opportunity to ensure that Milford Sound / Piopiotahi is managed appropriately to enable all users to enjoy the area.

User groups were identified and surveyed over February and April this year. For most user groups, viewing wildlife and experiencing peace and quiet are two other important opportunities. “While we knew the scenery of Milford Sound / Piopiotahi was particularly important to visitors, we now have a better understanding of the other attractions that draw visitors to the area,” says Tourism Industry Association Advocacy Manager Geoff Ensor.

“As part of the project, both agencies are currently assessing our respective planning documents to see if they align, or can align more closely, to protect the important values of the area,” says Environment Southland Policy and Planning Manager Ken Swinney.

The survey, project methodology and background is available on the project website, www.ifm.org.nz/.