Haast Hollyford Road

Cascade River - Haast Hollyford Highway
Proposal for Haast - Hollyford Highway & Te Anau self-esteem 
We have just finished the Tunnel and Monorail battles, but there is a more controversial issue ahead – the proposed Haast-Hollyford Road. This is supported by many members of the local community, but I believe this support is based on misleading information provided by road promoters. A major reason to build the road is "increased income in local economies" (Ref. 1) however this is partly a wrong perception. I believe that local economies such as Te Anau and Manapouri would be hurt.

To me the 3 main issues here are:
  1. Conservation - the main reason to oppose the road is conservation. To conserve means to protect, not to develop. We live in a nature paradise, one of the last few places like this in the World. We should cherish it, not bulldoze it. 
  2. Economy of the road - independent reviews provided by two roading engineers on behalf of FMC suggest that the road will not be economically viable (Ref. 2)
  3. Damage to local tourism - If the road was built it would be detrimental to tourism in existing communities such as Te Anau and Manapouri (and also divert tourists from Wanaka, etc)

As an inbound travel agent who has worked in tourism business for more than 10 years, I would like to elaborate on point 3 above.

Imagine if you were an overseas tourist.
If you travel from the north via the West Coast, you would usually stay either in Franz Josef or in Fox Glacier. This is a must for any tourist operator running tours of the South Island. From the point of view of planning a tour, the next stop can't be Te Anau, simply because it would make it too long a day. So, as a tourist I would stay for the night in Haast or in Jackson Bay, or better still in Milford Sound. What next? It is only a 2-hour drive to Te Anau. Why should I stay there overnight while I can easily reach Queenstown or Invercargill? Similarly, if you are travelling in the opposite direction, why would you stay in Te Anau, when you could stay in Milford or carry on to Haast?

This would generate extra businesses for all places between Haast and Milford Sound, however existing tourists centres such as Te Anau and Manapouri would suffer.

As a travel agent I have to be pragmatic. If the road was build I am sure our individual clients and tours would use it. However, we might stay only one night or not at all in Te Anau (and drive directly to Queenstown). So far we do our best (if time allows) to accommodate our clients in Te Anau for two nights, so they can do a relaxing day trip to Milford and back. They love it both ways. For Te Anau and Manapouri the current situation is actually very favourable. Tourists are very likely to stay in Te Anau for two nights. If I was a local councillor I would be against the road if only for economic reasons and the prosperity of people living in Te Anau and Southland.

Quite a few locals think that big projects (brought from outside) such as the Haast-Hollyford Road would support local tourism business and "save Fiordland economy" (Ref. 1). Some people point out that there are many one-day trips from Queenstown and back, and that the Hast Hollyford road might change it.

But to me one of main problems is never-ending misleading promotion by big tourism businesses (and possibly with help of Tourism New Zealand) suggesting that Queenstown is the main hub for Fiordland.

It is up to Southland and Fiordland residents to get the right message to potential tourists who plan to visit New Zealand.

I believe that we can correct the message and spread the word that Te Anau and Manapouri are the real gateway to Fiordland and Milford Sound.

Having said that, it is a bit of a David vs. Goliath situation. Destination Fiordland with its very limited resources cannot afford to fight against big professional promotion of Destination Queenstown. 

Petition against the Haast Hollyford Road & please share this article to open eyes!


1. http://www.odt.co.nz/regions/west-coast/279881/enthusiasm-haast-hollyford-road-evident-meeting
“boost tourism at both ends, according to its main promoter, former Westland mayor Durham Havill.”
“This road would have less environmental impact and would surely be an economic benefit,'' Mr Knowles said.”

2. Federated Mountain Clubs of NZ
We have obtained independent cost assessments of the proposed road from two independent roading engineers, and both have estimated it will require at least $1 billion to construct it. It is fanciful to believe that toll revenue could cover the cost of capital, let alone meet annual maintenance costs. The current remediation costs for the present roads south to Haast and to Milford Sound hint at the costs likely to stem from periodic seismic, landslide and flood events for the proposed road. In short, the economics do not and cannot stack up.

...they concluded the true cost would be closer to $2 billion.
"There's a huge difference in cost. Our position has not changed (and) the road is uneconomic. One of the good things (from yesterday) is that it's getting put through an official process -- it won't meet the tests."

Sir Edmund Hillary: "There are plenty of tamed wonders for all to goggle at through vehicle windows—we must also retain our wilderness areas where nature can develop in its own calm way and where only those humans who are prepared to walk and sweat a little qualify to go."

Media Statement Sent on Behalf of Te Rūnanga O Makaawhio Scoop 13/4/2015
Iwi on standby to stop the road Radio New Zealand, 14/4/2015
Haast-Hollyford Road could be shelved again Wanaka Sun 23/4/2015

Call to axe Haast-Hollyford road plans, Greymouth Star, 19/12/2014

Te Anau will become ghost town 
Distinction Hotel chain owner Geoff Thompson has spoken against the proposed Haast-Hollyford road, claiming it will leave Te Anau a ghost town and affect other Southland tourist spots.

Economic benefits???

A Hokitika lobby group has taken its concerns over the proposed Haast-Hollyford Road proposal right to the top.
The Westland Ratepayers and Residents Association has written to Conservation Minister Nick Smith to ask for the Government’s position on the viability of the suggested $220 million toll road.
Chairman Gray Eatwell, a Westland District Council candidate, said the letter addressed “widespread ratepayer concern” related to the ongoing costs of investigating the development.

About paper road between Hollyford and Haast

Queenstown is a hub for regular daily coach and bus services to Milford Sound

With the stunning Lake Wakatipu right there, and Milford Sound, just 'up the road', this area is made for exploring. With Te Anau, Queenstown is the main hub for those wishing to explore Milford Sound

Published: 19/6/2014 / Updated: 5/6/2016