Milford Sound
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DOC is working to collaboratively plan the medium to long-term management of very popular destinations across New Zealand. This will ensure they are protected, enhanced and enjoyed, now and into the future.

Destination management planning (DMP) drives proactive, joined-up visitor management for specific sites. Projects usually involve mana whenua, councils, conservation boards, communities, DOC and other agencies.

DMP provides non-statutory strategic direction for cross-jurisdiction visitor management and opportunities. It looks at how visitor demand (both current and predicted) will impact infrastructure, the environment and communities. It then identifies ways to mitigate those impacts and achieve positive outcomes.

DOC’s role in destination management planning

While, DMP projects have differing lead agencies, DOC has a key role in this work:

  • to ensure the protection and enhancement of cultural and natural heritage; and
  • to safe-guard ongoing high-quality access for New Zealanders and others

Through the process, DOC uses its knowledge to advocate:

  • which visitor experiences can be best accommodated where
  • the constraints needed to protect species, places and heritage, and
  • the expectations of iwi, hapū, whānau, visitors, local communities and other stakeholders.

Current destination management projects

Milford Sound Piopiotahi, the Milford Road corridor and wider Southland

The Milford Opportunities Project (MOP), a pivotal initiative for sustainably managing tourism in Southland, has entered a new phase. It continues to collaborate with its original partners - Ngāi Tahu, Southland District Council, Queenstown Lakes District Council, Waka Kotahi New Zealand Transport Agency, Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, and local businesses alongside DOC as the host Government agency.

It is led by Jenn Bestwick as Board Chair. She is the independent chair of Tonkin + Taylor, chair of the Tertiary Education Commission and an Antarctica New Zealand Board member. She is joined by a further two new board members, Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu chief executive Arihia Bennett and independent tourism thought leader Dave Bamford..

This collaborative effort focuses on Milford Sound Piopiotahi, the Milford Road corridor, and the surrounding areas. The project, initially led by Dr. Keith Turner, achieved a significant milestone by completing its Masterplan in 2021. This comprehensive plan targets the enhancement and sustainability of the World Heritage Area, aiming to address visitor pressures while enriching the experience for visitors and supporting local communities.

The MOP is undergoing a phase of feasibility testing, conducted by an independent unit that reports to the Ministers of Conservation, Tourism and Transport. This phase is crucial for assessing the practicality and effectiveness of the proposed strategies. The project is set to deliver a business case by June 30, 2024.

This new phase of the Milford Opportunities Project represents a significant step towards transformational change in the region, balancing the needs of tourism with environmental conservation and community welfare.

Find out more Milford Opportunities website.

Tongariro Alpine Crossing

DOC and Ngāti Hikairo ki Tongariro want to ensure the experience of walking the Tongariro Alpine Crossing protects the fragile environment, is safe, respects the cultural significance of the area, and is sustainable. DOC will be implementing a range of changes to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing in the coming years, aiming to better manage the pressures and strengthening cultural and heritage values in the Dual World Heritage National Park. 

The first stage in sustainable management has been the implementation of a booking system for visitors to the Tongariro Alpine Crossing. The booking system allows DOC to communicate directly with visitors to Tongariro, ensuring important safety and cultural information is provided in a timely manner. Booking data from the season will inform management to protect Tongariro for future generations.

Find out more about sustainable visitor management for Tongariro.

Book the Tongariro Alpine Crossing

Previous destination management projects

Find out about previous projects DOC has supported.

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