Bulldozing Paradise

Written By: - Date published: 11:25 am, January 15th, 2010 - 30 comments
Categories: Conservation, heritage, tourism, transport - Tags:

Today I thought I’d link to some of the amazing scenery Gerry Brownlee wants to bulldoze for his road through the middle of Fiordland National Park.

This is a picture of the Hollyford Valley from Hollyford track’s gallery [hat-tip norightturn]. These guys look like they run a pretty cool guided touring business up the Hollyford track. And this is the valley Brownlee wants to bulldoze through!?

While looking around for pictures I came across these crazy jokers from Greymouth who posted a pretty classic youtube summary of their trip up the Hollyford Valley. Worth a wee look at – it being Friday and all… Gets some pretty cool shots of that which Brownlee seeks to destroy.

And here’s the map of the area. Brownlee’s bulldozing will require at least 100km of new sealed road. Even without considering all the environmental destruction it’s hard to see how there can be any kind of sane economic justification for such an undertaking.

See that little place called Paradise next to the Hollyford Valley. There’s a reason why a spot in northern Fiordland would get that name, because that’s exactly what it is.

We must do whatever we can to stop Brownlee’s madness.

30 comments on “Bulldozing Paradise”

  1. Bored 1

    The river looks navigable, bit of digging etc and NatInc (Mining Assocs) Ltd will be able to bring the barges directly to the mine…no road needed…

  2. randal 2

    like rip it up dude.
    leave no stone unturned.

  3. fizzleplug 3

    Down at bottom right looks like a nice spot to pull over and eat lunch on the riverbank.

  4. tsmithfield 5

    And from that elevation the road would be barely visible. In fact a lot of it would probably be under a canopy of trees as is the case with the Lewis Pass.

    I think you’re overcooking your cabbage to be honest.

    • snoozer 5.1

      so, you’re cool with building a 100km road through untouched national park?

      Pray tell, what would the economic justification for such a project be?

      We’re talking about linking Haast to Hollyford here, how is that going to boost tourism?

      Oh, wait, it’s not about tourism. It’s about mining the Red Hills, eh?

    • Bored 5.2

      Yeah TS, but we dont want any socialist roads provided for and paid for by the government, thats not their role, as you constantly say.

      So why not leave it to the private sector, lets get the hotels and burger stands and all other enterprises that will follow in the wake of the road to pre fund it? Hey, what about two or three roads, toll of course to provide competiton and diversity, lets face it thats got to be more efficient? Perhaps a mine or two or three to increase revenues? Yeah that will provide economic growth.

      Or perhaps we just leave the whole bloody thing alone?

      • Quoth the Raven 5.2.1

        It’s a good idea to leave it to the private sector. They don’t own the land. It’s probably not economical. So, if left to the private sector the whole bloody thing would be left alone.

  5. tsmithfield 6

    Snoozer “so, you’re cool with building a 100km road through untouched national park?”

    Absolutely. That is a huge area you’re talking about. The amount of space taken up by the road is absolutely tiny in comparison. The visual impact will be virtually nil. As I said, most of it would be hidden by a canopy of trees, so it would be virtually invisible from the air. At ground level you’d hardly ever see it due to the surrounding bush blocking the view. Its only the motorists who would really see it, and would absolutely love the surrounding view. Any vegetation destroyed would regenerate really quickly. It is rain forest after all, and theres a lot of rain over there.

    If we had always been so precious about these sorts of projects we wouldn’t have a lot of the great roads we have now through the South Island.

    Snoozer “Pray tell, what would the economic justification for such a project be?”

    Haven’t even bothered to think that far about it. I was only thinking in terms of environmental impact. However, it is certainly a road I would like to have a drive through if the opportunity presented itself. However, I would certainly support a toll road concept as suggested by Bored, and would be more than happy to pay the toll.

    Snoozer “We’re talking about linking Haast to Hollyford here, how is that going to boost tourism?

    Oh, wait, it’s not about tourism. It’s about mining the Red Hills, eh?”

    Asked and answered by the protestations you are making about disrupting some fantastic scenery. Who wouldn’t want to drive through there to get the great views.

    • Bored 6.1

      TS, you bring a whole new meaning to the term “Phillistine” “Philistine”. It never used to be so synonymous with RWNJ. Well done!

      [lprent: You probably have no idea how much impact you lose with misspelling the word. It annoyed me enough that I corrected you…. ]

    • snoozer 6.2

      “Who wouldn’t want to drive through there to get the great views.”

      Well, why don’t we just pave the whole bloody thing then, so we can get to see all the great views. The more of our nature we pave over, the more tourists will want to come and see it.

      You’ve clearly never been in the bush, ts. or you would know that a road affects the land for kms away. You can’t be near a road and really in the bush. The noise, the mirco-cliamte, and other environmental effects are inescapable, tree cover or not.

      If you want to drive around in Fiordland go to Milford Sound with all the other tossers. Please, let some nature just be there to be enjoyed.

    • Michael Foxglove 6.3

      tsmithfield – You can’t seriously say roads produce no visual impact!!! Have you seen some of roads gutting the tropical rainforests? In NZ’s subtropical climate the effect is even worse. This photo of the rimutaka road north of wellington clearly shows the visual damage http://www.wainuiomata.co.nz/images/NZPage/wairarapahill.jpg

      And you’re simplistic view of this just being about “visual” effects is quite misguided. There are likely to be serious effects on native wildlife. Roads provide pests with an easy means of spreading themselves. Cars would hit and kill native flightless birds. The ecology of the area would be divided in two. There would be pressure for increased development alongside the road.

      Also, who knows, maybe Brownlee does have plans for a mine in the red hills, I’ll look into that.

    • NickS 6.4

      I’ve said this in the other thread, but the main issues with this are:

      1) Disturbance, in the form of road and earth work run-off into streams, leading possibly, to short to long term changes on in fresh-water community structures. Then there’s also the fact that this area has some of the last remaining Whio Whio populations in the South island, which may be negatively impacted via changes in fresh-water prey, if not scared off from areas next to the road. Along with road sides and earthworks providing habitat for invasive weeds, and so habitat for invasive insect species, which without said disturbance would be out-competed by the local flora and fauna and thus not able to establish.

      2) Edge effects. You know that seemingly non-obtrusive road through Lewis Pass? Well, the edge-effect that road generates impacts quite a few kilometres into the forest, which according to one of the papers I have lurking in my university conservation course notes has altered the local assemblages of native beetles, which could quite easily allow for exotic beetles to establish where they couldn’t previously due to competition from native beetles. Which could have numerous problems, but of course this is dependent on the ecological niches involved. Also, that road in Lewis Pass under DoC’s wilding pines strategy is seen as a corridor for, I think it’s Douglas Fir, to invade along, a plant that has this really annoying ability to establish under tree canopies, and in the open under-story of beech forests tends to be highly invasive.

      Of course, I suppose none of this really matters to you, simply because like our current Minister for Conservation, you’re completely ignorant about it, and I’d bet somewhat dismissive of the science when it goes against your beliefs.

      And if teh tourists want to see the views, they can either hike it, fly it, or just look at videos or pictures. All of which are cheaper over all than bulldozing a road through the area. Which also bring in the ever annoying to hear in the bush noise of cars.

  6. tsmithfield 7

    Bored “TS, you bring a whole new meaning to the term “Phillistine’. It never used to be so synonymous with RWNJ. well done!”

    Thanks!!!

    Its just the way that you’re all going on about it, you’d think they’re planning to bulldoze the lot. In reality, there would be hardly any impact at all.

    • Peter Wilson 7.1

      There would be huge impact. Sure, the roadway itself is a small corridor, but what about the need for depots, construction camps, and road servicing. That adds to the footprint.

      But the bigger impact comes not from the road itself, but what it brings with it. That area of country (the map on the site is not the currently proposed road route, it goes around the coast instead, on a longer route) is remarkably pest free, due to large unbridged rivers that act as natural barriers to predators. That would go, and no amount of mitigation would fix the corridor for invasive species that would open up, particularly weeds.

      Similarly, there’s the massive recreational opportunity lost. That’s one of the few parts of the country you can tramp and climb in for weeks at a time without seeing anyone. Wildernesses of that size and containing such challenging terrain are rare now. Sure (aside from the Hollyford Track itself) it represents the upper end of the spectrum of users, but still, that use has its place. And if New Zealand prides itself on producing world-class outdoor people, it doesn’t make any sense to remove those places where such people train and find inspiration. We have endless “front country” opportunities, but keep eroding into the remote stuff, and why?

      Plus, the road doesn’t make sense from a tourism perspective. Queenstown runs Milford Sound as an attached destination, even if it means a 16 hour return trip by road. This road doesn’t connect to any major airport, nor any tourism centre. Queenstown doesn’t want to lose return tourists. It doesn’t do anything to alleviate massive congestion at Milford at key times either.

      What we are seeing now are last grasp schemes of an old generation who can think of only one thing – of pushing out the frontier to find ever more resources to prop up their failing economic system. They don’t know anything else except to extract and build. However, this road, if it ever gets built, might just find itself rather lonely in the future, with no cars to drive on it.

      Please tell me where the oil will come from for people to drive on it in the future?

  7. Mac1 8

    “And daddy won’t you take me back to Muhlenberg County
    Down by the Green River where Paradise lay
    Well, I’m sorry my son, but you’re too late in asking
    Mister Peabody’s coal train has hauled it away

    Then the coal company came with the world’s largest shovel
    And they tortured the timber and stripped all the land
    Well, they dug for their coal till the land was forsaken
    Then they wrote it all down as the progress of man.”

    Chorus and third verse of John Prine’s “Paradise” written in 1971.

    Have we learnt nothing? It seems every generation must write its songs and poems of paradise, innocence and beauty lost.

  8. Daveosaurus 9

    Actually, Paradise isn’t in Fiordland at all; it’s a pastoral station in the Dart Valley north of Kinloch, in the upper Wakatipu area. You’ll also notice that only about a third of the proposed route is even within Fiordland in the first place.

    You may as well all relax; there’s no chance whatsoever of the road actually happening. It’s all a pipe dream, probably the consequence of overindulgence in taxpayer-funded booze by Brownlee over the holiday break. The cost would be astronomical (think of whatever figure the politicians are bandying around and multiply it by ten; that would barely begin to approach the final cost, including all the inevitable over-runs and remedial work required by political obsession with going for “cheap” rather than “well-constructed”. All this when there is a desperate need for roads in areas likely to be used by actual voters (who are, I am sure, sick and tired of sitting in traffic jams, or being stuck behind poorly tuned diesel-belching crawlers waiting for a passing lane).

    • Peter Wilson 9.1

      Yep – I agree. This idea comes up time and again and generally comes to nothing, because of the cost. The private sector won’t build it. Even Queenstown business interests don’t have the money, and they don’t want the road. Hell, their own pet project – a tunnel through the Humboldts to the Hollyford Valley is on hold due to the recession. That project at least makes sense.

      I cannot see Steven Joyce for a second entertaining the idea from the transport budget, not with Auckland transport issues.

      My only lingering worry is the mining issue, although some who have worked in that area for Kennecott have stated that the resource is small, and also hydroelectric development.

      Otherwise it’s either a ruse by Brownlee to take attention away from other areas, or more likely, just another blunder.

    • Bright Red 9.2

      “You’ll also notice that only about a third of the proposed route is even within Fiordland in the first place.”

      The rest of the route is conservation areas and Mt Aspiring National Park.

      • Peter Wilson 9.2.1

        Not to mention the Olivine Wilderness – a National Parks Act section 14 wilderness area, specifically managed for no huts, tracks, buildings, or general aircraft landing.

        • burt 9.2.1.1

          OK, now that is an area to fight for. I’d whack a mountain bike track up the Hollyford valley and chuck in a few back packers for riders as quick as a flash as long as there is a gravel track and guided tours for walkers. But real wilderness, that is something to fight for.

          Cheers for pointing that out Peter.

        • DC 9.2.1.2

          Actually- if it follows the surveyed route from the late 1800s or a more coastal route, it won’t go into the Olivine Wilderness Area..
          Still not a good idea, I’m just saying…

  9. just looking at the beauty in that photo reminds me of how grateful and privileged I feel to be able to call this land home.

  10. 350ppm 11

    @tsmithfield Over 90% of NZ’s lowland ecosystems have been destroyed outright. The remaining proportion that remains unmodified by human development is miniscule. Consequently, our remaining tracts of unmodified ecosytems are not just scenery, but internationally signficant ecological treasures. The ecological effects of constructing and operating 100km of road through such an area would be catastrophic.

    A very few of the non-visual environmental effects would include:

    Roadkills of kiwi and other threatened wildlife
    Introduction of exotic weeds and animal pests including predators such as mustelids
    WIldlife behavioural modifications
    Habitat fragmentation and isolation of populations

    Air pollution
    Noise pollution
    Erosion
    Sedimentation and the resultant destruction of aquatic life
    Water pollution from fuel, PAH’s and heavy metals

    There are many more…

  11. tsmithfield 12

    350ppm “@tsmithfield Over 90% of NZ’s lowland ecosystems have been destroyed outright. The remaining proportion that remains unmodified by human development is miniscule.”

    So we shouldn’t build anymore roads then? Period?

  12. ak 13

    tsmithfield:

    At ground level you’d hardly ever see it due to the surrounding bush blocking the view.

    My nomination for Toryism of the Year.

  13. Rich 14

    Hey, who cares about landscape values? I hear Hawaii’s got some great views – doesn’t everyone go there for their 8 weeks overseas holiday, like John Key?

  14. 350ppm 15

    @tsmithfield

    Not through our tiny remnants of untrammeled wilderness, no, not at all.

    Nor am I keen on spending money on urban motorways that will cost taxpayers a dollar for every 60c that they’re worth. But that’s a separate issue…

    Off for the weekend now, hope you enjoy yours.

  15. jcuknz 16

    If as somebody suggested the proposed road would be close to the sea, where there seems to be a string of townships, then while it goes through Foirdland national park innitially, going north, to reach the coast it goes nowhere near Mt Aspiring National Park whose western boundary is in the mountains back from the sea. It looks like there would still be plenty of room for people to get away from the rest of us.

    On the other thread I have said that I wasn’t calling anybody a terrorist but rather just pointing out how easy it is to step over the mark when one is sure of the rightness of one’s views. But it is equally easy for people to describe things that they don’t like as terrorism when done by a government they don’t support. A rather ridiculous statement when made with regard to the NZ scene.

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