Milford Sound Piopiotahi Masterplan is released

Milford Sound
Photo by Amy Workman on Unsplash

Protecting the character of one of Murihiku / Southland’s most iconic – and traditionally most-visited – landscapes and recognising its strong Ngāi Tahu associations is at the heart of the Milford Opportunities Masterplan, which was released earlier this week in Te Anau.

The Government confirmed support for the Masterplan, through the creation of a dedicated Establishment Board and project team to assess the Masterplan’s recommendations and proceed through to the implementation stages.

The Masterplan itself – four years in the making and led by the Milford Opportunities Group – intends to address concerns about managing the rapid increase in visitor numbers, aging tourism infrastructure and the potential impacts of these on the character of the landscape and mana whenua values.

Additionally, the Masterplan provides a direction for long-term sustainable development of the wider Murihiku / Southland region, by including broader considerations – such as transportation networks, zero-carbon initiatives, and greater inclusion of mana whenua aspirations. 

In developing the Masterplan, Boffa Miskell and Stantec, along with a group of specialist consultants, worked with the Milford Opportunities Group to engage with mana whenua; stakeholders, including regional business operators, recreational users, conservation groups, and the local community; and collaborate with the local and central government.

Lead Masterplanner, Tim Church says, “The masterplan leads the way, in terms of best-practice visitor destination management. Rather than just cherry-picking projects, the Milford Opportunities masterplan takes a very holistic, systems-based approach – broadening the destinations and activities on offer; integrating a diverse range of workstream advice; and addressing the tough issues upfront. It’s about setting the stage for long-term economic success for Te Anau and the wider region, by protecting and enhancing the essence or wairua of the place that visitors are increasingly seeking out. It’s a win-win situation for the community and the environment”

Milford Sound
Masterplan Key Concepts (Pg.7 of the Masterplan document) Image: Courtesy of Milford Opportunities

In support of the Masterplan’s vision: Piopiotahi – New Zealand as it was, Forever the desired outcomes, organised into Seven Pillars, have been met:

  • Mana whenua Values Woven Throughout
  • A Moving Experience
  • Tourism Funds Conservation and Community
  • Effective Visitor Management
  • Resilient to Change and Risk
  • Conservation
  • Harness Innovation and Technology

Representatives from Ngāi Tahu will be on the Board, acknowledging the iwi’s role as mana whenua and the group will be chaired by Dr Keith Turner, the chair of the Milford Opportunities Project.

 “Being part of this transformational change in visitor management is tremendously exciting and the timing seems right,” says Tim Church. “The Boffa Miskell team – and the wider consultant group – is very much looking forward to continuing to support the Milford Opportunities Project as we move into Stage 3. This next stage will likely need an even boarder range of the types of skills we offer, as the programme moves towards delivering on the masterplan.”

See the Masterplan at

Photo by Amy Workman on Unsplash

Graphic: Courtesy of Milford Opportunities

About Damian Holmes 3071 Articles
Damian Holmes is the Founder and Editor of World Landscape Architecture (WLA). He is a registered landscape architect (AILA) working in international design practice in Australia. Damian founded WLA in 2007 to provide a website for landscape architects written by landscape architects. Connect on Linkedin at