The construction of the tunnel, at massive cost, will mean temporary work for some people. But conversely it will detrimentally affect the economies of tourist towns and villages on the existing road route from Queenstown, which not only passes through Te Anau but also Five Rivers, Athol, Garston, and Mossburn. These historic settlements all provide cafe and accommodation facilities and local employment.
The tunnel will also detrimentally affect existing coach operators who use this route and have invested in scenic coaches, providing a good visitor experience. The tunnel may encourage more visitors to leave the region entirely after a ‘quick dash’ to Milford Sound via the tunnel, rather than undertaking a more lengthy trip to explore the many other beautiful sites in the region that are accessible from Te Anau, such as Lake Te Anau, Lake Manapouri, and the Southern Scenic Route.
To quote Richard Davies of the Federated Mountain Clubs of New Zealand: “Those who claim this tunnel is crucial to tourism in our largest World Heritage Area reminds me of the commanders in the Vietnam War who told us they needed to destroy the village in order to save it.”
It’s such a mad, bad idea that we have to wonder if it’s being proposed in order to make the monorail look like a good option. In fact, in a public meeting, the company seeking permission to build the monorail threatened local people that if they didn’t support the monorail, they’d get the tunnel. We say: “No to both!”