Doubtful Sound day trips declined

Doubtful Sound. Photo: ODT files

A TOURISM operator’s attempt to make permanent its allowance for day trips in Doubtful Sound has been refused.

For the last 10 years, Fiordland Cruises Ltd had offered backcountry charter trips in the area and, from mid-February to the end of June last year, was temporarily allowed to operate day trips, too.

This was while the Milford Road was closed.

At the end of the temporary allowance, owner Clint Tauri applied for a new resource consent to be able to continue these day trips.

This, however, was refused.

At the beginning of March, a hearing was held and, in her report, independent hearing commissioner Sharon McGarry said the environmental effects of the application would potentially be more than minor.

“I have paid particular attention to actual and potential cumulative effects on intrinsic values of natural ecosystems, natural character, and remoteness and wilderness values.”

She also said, while it was considered, concern from Mr Tauri that one company effectively held all of the day trip allocation was not relevant.

He had asked regard be given to the need for his company to survive in the face of global travel restrictions over the next three to five years.

Environment Southland consents officer George Gericke confirmed his original recommendation to decline the application on the basis of potential cumulative effects on remoteness and wilderness values.

Mr Tauri lodged a second application in September for Offspring Travel Ltd, seeking a replacement consent authorising commercial day trips and backcountry trip activity in Doubtful Sound.

It, too, was partly refused and an increase in day trips was not allowed.