Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

Winston Aldworth: Smith's chance for a sound decision

Conservation Minister Nick Smith. Photo / NZ Herald
Conservation Minister Nick Smith. Photo / NZ Herald

Conservation Minister Nick Smith's decision to take control of the plans for tourist access from Queenstown to Milford Sound is a good one.

Smith will now have the final call on whether to build a tunnel or a monorail connecting the resort town to the scenic spot, or to stay with the status quo, a nine-hour return bus ride.

It's to be hoped he goes for one of the ambitious projects that will make this wonderful part of the world even more fabulous for visitors. I'd prefer to see the much quicker tunnel than the scenic monorail - but as long as he backs our ability to be bold and get it right, he'll be doing well.

Provided safety and environmental concerns are covered, we can dig a belter of a tunnel. Nowhere is it written that we must not dig tunnels in this region. In fact, we already have a very good one down there, the 1.2km Homer Tunnel, which connects - let's see now... ah that's right - Queenstown to Milford Sound.

Naysayers and wowsers would prefer the tourism sector be stuck with the status quo - the nine-hour bus ride. Smith must ignore them.

Like many, I'm a little surprised that Smith still gets to show his face in Parliament after using his ACC ministerial letterhead to vouch for an old mate. But if he gets this project under way he'll be on the right track.

- NZ Herald

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Winston Aldworth is the Herald's Travel Editor.

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