The monorail route

September 26th, 2013 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

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Stuff has this image and a story. As one can see the route doesn’t go into National Park itself. I think this shows that the opposition is motivated mainly by the fact it bypasses Te Anau. But just as I don’t think one should not build Clifford Bay to protect Picton, neither should you decline consent for this project to protect Te Anau.

I think many tourists would love to travel via catmaran, ATVs and through the farm and conservation land there. Competition is good, providing a choice of routes.

Patrick Smellie writes on the proposal:

To recap: for $179, the Fiordland Experience would ferry 160-plus passengers 40 minutes from Queenstown up Lake Wakatipu to Mt Taylor station. There, they’d board a bus for a 40-minute jaunt up a farmed valley flanked by bare or beech-covered ranges. There are some farm buildings, the occasional car, and some prized angling spots up here, and a sense of the back country emptiness that lies just beyond the bustle of Queenstown. This is all either on public roads or involves concessions from private landowners.

The next part is trickier. From the buses, tourists would be decanted into the carriages of a rubber-wheeled, electric-powered monorail for a 41-kilometre trip terminating at the ageing Fiordland Lodge.

With a 6-metre-wide corridor and up to 2m off the ground, the monorail will be narrower than a roadway, its promoters claim, and won’t affect forest canopy during the 29km of this trip that crosses government-owned conservation land in the Snowdon Forest Park.

The Department of Conservation and the Fiordland Experience have spent years working out a low-impact route, which does – let’s face it – put a monorail through a forest. DoC will charge for the privilege.

A forest park is not a national park. Its legal and conservation status is much lower and, therefore, potentially more acceptable – at least on paper.

While the monorail also cuts across a corner of the Unesco-designated Fiordland World Heritage Area, that designation has no legal standing and also covers a vast swath of the West Coast, including townships and other existing tourist hotspots.

If anything, the area lacks the grandeur in less reachable parts of the region and the only encroachment on the highly protected Fiordland National Park is the lodge site itself.

So the monorail will be in the Snowdon Forest Park, not the Fiordland National Park. How many people had even heard of Snowdon Forest Park before today?

Smellie (who had his trip down there paid for by the promoters) has a useful suggestion:

Assuming Smith can get himself over the environmental, commercial and political hurdles – and that’s a big “if” – he should only contemplate permission subject to cast-iron commitments on both project funding and the removal of infrastructure in the Snowdon Forest Park in the event of its disuse. 

I think that is fair enough. No one wants a dis-used monorail sitting somewhere. But I think the proposed route would attract many tourists domestically and internationally, and if investors are prepared to spend $200 million of their own money making it happen they should be given the chance.

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23 Responses to “The monorail route”

  1. Jack5 (5,157 comments) says:

    You’re on the mark, DPF. The problem here is ensuring a cast-iron guarantee for removal of the line if it’s unsuccessful. That would entail keeping the funds secure in some sort of trust.

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  2. RRM (10,020 comments) says:

    Consider the Rimutaka Rail Trail or New York’s High Line before getting too down on the ruins of old infrastructure ;-)

    I wouldn’t take this ride though. The direct shortcut from Glenorchy I could have got more excited about. This seems even more convoluted than just getting in my car and driving around from Queenstown.

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  3. King Kong (44 comments) says:

    Is this a similar kind of route to the one they used in Ogdenville and North Haverbrook?

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  4. Redbaiter (9,609 comments) says:

    It won’t happen.

    This is NZ.

    A country crippled by a sick watermelon mentality and governed by cowardly compromisers.

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  5. scrubone (3,105 comments) says:

    Interesting – it skirts around the outside of the area people ride motorbikes and 4wd’s into.

    If anything, it doesn’t go far enough into the conservation estate.

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  6. peterwn (3,307 comments) says:

    Ironically, it is more likely to get the go-ahead IMO if Labour / Greens succeed in getting Nick Smith sacked as a Minister. Nick is National’s ‘green’ conscience. Or will Labour / Green infiltrators in DOC, etc try to ‘set up’ Nick on this one, like I suspected they did with the Hawkes Bay dam – produce a dodgy draft report, then leak its existence and associated emails to Labour and Green parties.

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  7. vto (1,131 comments) says:

    Such a comprehensive and compelling analysis Farrar, you’re onto it. Especially the bit about few people even knowing of Snowdon Forest Park, that is a real clincher…..

    Eat the environment yeah. I mean that is the only way most of NZ has gained its wealth today (with this process only accelerating). Aint done nothing clever. Just keep eating it. Chomp chomp chomp, nyum nyum nyum,….. burp

    The thinking of two centuries ago, nothing more. What a joke.

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  8. Jack5 (5,157 comments) says:

    C’mon vto. The environment’s to be enjoyed by all of us, not just weekend trampers.

    They’ve just about shut merino farming out of the high country and want the thar out of the mountains. I reckon your lot would be happy if all humans were deported from NZ except DOC rangers and members of mountaineering and tramping clubs.

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  9. vto (1,131 comments) says:

    C’mon Jack5. The environment’s to be enjoyed by all of us, not just businessmen taking a piece each for themselves.

    They’ve just about shut down all rivers and waterways with their shit in just 150 years. I reckon your lot would be happy if all parks were canned and opened for full scale development and commercial eating.

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  10. vto (1,131 comments) says:

    Even aside from the environmental effects, this is a disaster waiting to happen. It is all about Robertson’s property holdings. Look closely.

    And …. want to go to Milford? The longest route will be this one – think about it – drive to the wharf in Queenstown get out of the car and onto a boat, sail across the lake and get off the boat and load into a 4WD bus, drive over rough roads, get out of the bus and onto a monorail train, toot toot through some bush then get off the train and onto a bus, drive to Milford then get off the bus and onto another boat. And guess what – you are only halfway as you need to reverse the whole lot to get back…. It would be funny if it wasn’t so serious. Then on top of all that, the simple drive through Te Anau is a more scenic route anyway.

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  11. vto (1,131 comments) says:

    Oh and this one too Farrar, very compelling very compelling

    “if investors are prepared to spend $200 million of their own money making it happen they should be given the chance.”

    for fucks sake that is some shallow muddle-headed thinking…

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  12. Dennis Horne (2,403 comments) says:

    I’m no expert on trekking or the area – I struggled over the Routeburn 50 years ago – but I don’t think this route is exciting enough and it’s no short cut. Genorchy to Homer Tunnel direct… Now that would be something I’d pay for. We must make a living with what we’ve got, which is fcuk all in my opinion. (Had an apartment opposite the Vienna State Opera in July, now that is an experience people will pay for. Lots.)

    Pity cannibalism has fallen out of favour. We could sell fresh greenies. The Maoris had it down to a fine art.

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  13. Paulus (2,664 comments) says:

    I will be one of the first t buy tickets.
    Often have been tempted when in Queenstown but the thought of the hours of bus rides is so daunting that have never made it.

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  14. georgebolwing (1,005 comments) says:

    Whether this venture will be a financial success shouldn’t be part of the consideration (save the risk mentioned that bankruptcy would leave unsightly structures in place, but bonds can fix this). The promoters can look after that. the Council should be looking only at the environmental impacts. But, this being New Zealand, I am sure that the Council will start talking about taking a “NZ Inc” approach, which seems to be code for government interfering in business.

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  15. vto (1,131 comments) says:

    rather than business interfering in government eh georgie boy

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  16. rouppe (982 comments) says:

    You’ve forgotten to mention the service road. There is going to have to be continuous cut-back of the flora to keep it off the monorail.

    The corridor will be 6m wide for the monorail, plus whatever for a service road.

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  17. davidp (3,588 comments) says:

    I’m opposed. Monorails are just tacky. Like a 1960s Jetson’s view of the future, except we’re in the future now and we look at monorails as being sad an impractical rather than space age and cool.

    No doubt lots of people would travel to see a 200 foot Elvis statue erected in the forest. That’d be just as tacky. We can’t mandate standards of taste on private land, but we should do so on public land. That means no Elvis statues, and no monorail.

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  18. itstricky (1,890 comments) says:

    Agree davidp. One of the key considerations for me if it is about protecting Te Anau is whether the outfit are local. Are we talking stripping bread and butter profits/jobs out of Te Anau to send to Auckland or overseas interests? At the expense local provincial development? I see no analysis of this obvious question.

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  19. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    davidp: +1. Stupid monorail. Build a bus route instead. An elevated one if that makes you happy. Actually, I suspect this is really exactly that – an elevated bus route – but someone decided monorail sounded much more exciting. If we made it an actual bus route that buses could drive onto, then the vehicle changes that vto bemoans would go away.

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  20. Lance (2,714 comments) says:

    @davidp
    As far as strawmen go, that’s a doozy

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  21. Steve Wrathall (285 comments) says:

    This will be so way cool-in a Return of the Jedi speeder bike kind of way. And why should they have to remove it if it’s ever disused? Some of the most interesting tramps pass by the overgrown ruins of past infrastructure: Bridge to Nowhere, etc.

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  22. Redbaiter (9,609 comments) says:

    “The problem here is ensuring a cast-iron guarantee for removal of the line if it’s unsuccessful. That would entail keeping the funds secure in some sort of trust.”

    Has this policy been followed in respect of companies that erect wind farms?

    It should have been.

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  23. PaulL (6,048 comments) says:

    @RedBaiter: no, I have aspirations that the ruined hulks of windmills can be used to create awesome zip line and bungee jumping parks. After we’ve harvested the generators inside them for the rare earth magnets and other reusable bits.

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