MAINTAINING Fiordland’s wilderness was the theme of a kiwi tourism giant’s water consent hearing on Tuesday.
Real Journeys Ltd applied to the regional council to renew its coastal permit.
It would allow it to operate the 44m Fiordland Navigator, two tender vessels and up to 30 kayaks for day trips and backcountry trip activities in Fiordland, including Doubtful Sound.
It also sought to alter where it took some backcountry trips.
Real Journeys requested an increase of backcountry trips in First Arm from 12 to 31 times each calendar month.
The concern was there could be an accumulative impact on the area’s wilderness and remoteness.
Commissioner Sharon McGarry sought clarification on this.
In a report for the hearing, Environment Southland consents officer George Gericke explains the proposed change would mean an over-allocation of discretionary day trips and backcountry trips within the Doubtful Sound complex under the operative Regional Coastal Plan for Southland 2013.
However, Real Journeys representatives did not feel the consented-for figures Mr Gericke used reflected the actual number of vessels.
Real Journeys general manager Paul Norris said it respected the area and worked with other operators to maintain those remoteness and wilderness values.
There had been a peak in domestic tourist numbers in the area recently and he pointed out the increase asked for may not be taken up all the time.
“I’m sure you can appreciate, it’s getting security of tenure.”
While Real Journeys originally requested a consent term of 25 years, a term of 12 years was recommended.
Commissioner McGarry also suggested Real Journeys voluntarily add to its consent conditions that it would seek to get consent for a mooring in First Arm.
This would mean its vessels would operate in different areas, except during bad weather.
At the end of the hearing, she asked Mr Gericke if the overall effect of application, above the status quo, was positive.