Sunday, April 14, 2024
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Visitor experiences to be developed around Fox Glacier

This weekend an announcement was made around a $3.9 million International Visitor Conservation and Tourism Levy investment to develop visitor experiences around Fox Glacier and support the ongoing resilience of the South Westland tourism economy.

The announcement was made by Minister of Conservation, Eugenie Sage, at Matheson Café in Fox Glacier on August 24.

"The powerful forces of nature which have given us this outstanding landscape, also occasionally mean that nature overwhelms human construction. I was very keen to work with Te Papa Atawhai and have the department work with you to develop a package to ensure that there was a lot for visitors to see here," says Eugenie.

This follows an engineering report commissioned by the Department of Conservation and the New Zealand Transport Agency which found it was no longer practical to re-establish road access into the Fox Glacier valley.

The access road has been closed since storms in February due to a landslide that has caused damage to the access road and facilities.

Ashley Cassin, chair for Glacier Country Tourism, describes the announcement as a fantastic opportunity for Fox Glacier.

"This is a situation where metaphorically we have been thrown a lemon, but the opportunity presented out of the International Visitor Levy is our chance to make lemonade. This is a huge step in the right direction establishing new and upgrading existing infrastructure.

"Minister Sage’s visit was warmly received as was the message she delivered on an absolute blue-bird West Coast day. Whilst it is a huge blow to lose the valley access we have historically benefitted from, alternative vantage points and other infrastructure are now getting a serious upgrade for this coming season due to the hard-working team at the Department of Conservation."

The Fox Glacier Valley Walk is closed indefinitely.

State Highway 6 remains unimpacted and is still open to visitors.

Jim Little, regional tourism manager for Development West Coast, agrees that this will provide more tourism opportunities for the area.

"It’s fantastic that government has allocated these funds to provide a stimulant for Fox Glacier. Getting the south side walking track will alleviate part of the valley access issue. Lake Matheson is one of the most beautiful places in New Zealand with awesome views of Mt Cook."

Heli-Hikes, snow landings and scenic flights are still operating in both Fox Glacier and Franz Josef Glacier.

The valley road to Franz Josef Glacier is open and there are a wide range of activities available in Glacier Country, including quad biking, hot pools, guided walking tours, horse riding and kayaking.

The funding boost will go towards: Redesigning the Fox Glacier/Te Moeka o Tuawe experience and valley walks, creating a carpark and cycle/walkway for access to the south side of the valley and glacier views, and building trails to connect existing facilities.

Collaborating with Ngai Tahu and Te Runanga o Makaawhio to develop a day walk to Lake Gault, which has reflection views of the mountains and forests and will incorporate rowi kiwi and lowland forest stories. This walk extends the walking options at Lake Matheson.

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