21 May 2015

New Fiordland tunnel proposal

4:38 pm on 21 May 2015

Another plan has been put forward for a tunnel in Fiordland National Park to reduce the travel time between Queenstown and Milford Sound.

Milford Sound

Milford Sound Photo: 123RF

Milford Sound Link Rail has lodged a submission on the Queenstown Lakes District Council's Ten Year Plan, seeking support for a 13.5 kilometre rail tunnel.

The tunnel would link the Dart and Hollyford valleys, with electric railway wagons transporting buses and cars.

The Conservation Minister has previously turned down two proposals for alternative routes between Queenstown and Milford - a monorail and another tunnel.

The proposed monorail.

The Government last year rejected a monorail proposal. Photo: Fiordland Link Experience

But the proponent of the latest plan, Colin Jenner, said it allayed concerns the minister had with the other proposals relating to environmental effects and tunnel safety.

Rather than using buses in the tunnel, as with earlier proposals, electric trains would be used that would pull in fresh air with them, he said.

Spoil from the tunnel would be spread on farmland in the Dart Valley, not left in the Hollyford Valley; the tunnel entrance was outside the national park, and a rail tunnel would be safer than a road one.

The Save Fiordland president Bill Jarvie said building tunnels in remote areas to rush tourists between attractions was not good for the country's tourism industry.

He also said that it was just another idea out of Queenstown which did not focus on quality visitor experiences and supporting other tourist towns.

Get the new RNZ app

for ad-free news and current affairs