Karamea's Oparara Arches upgrades for a sustainable future

The Tai Poutini West Coast Economic Action Plan 2017 proposed that Tourism West Coast be the lead agency to manage a Feasibility Study and Business Case into assessing the potential of the Oparara Basin.

The Oparara Arches are a magnificent natural attraction that was identified by Tourism West Coast as one of the six iconic places for visitors to the Coast.

The six iconic places identified are Haast, Franz Josef, Hokitika Gorge, Lake Brunner, Punakaiki and the Oparara Arches. Tourism West Coast recognise that people who visit these locations expect to witness and enjoy unspoilt natural features, and preserving the integrity and natural beauty of these special environments is critical when creating visitor infrastructure in these locations.

Tourism West Coast appointed TRC Tourism Consultants who completed a feasibility and business case in July 2018. Considering the sensitive conservation values of the Oparara, they recommended a series of improvements to visitor infrastructure and services to enhance the visitor experience whilst protecting the significant values of the Oparara.

Tourism West Coast consulted with all key stakeholders identified in the TRC report and have put together a proposal that includes some of their recommendations. The proposal is for ‘The development and restoration of the Oparara Basin Delivering a world-class visitor experience whilst preserving the environment for future generations’.

The proposal includes priority actions to support improved safety, security of existing infrastructure, preservation of the natural environment, and an improved visitor experience.

Tourism West Coast CEO Jim Little says, “We are determined to safeguard the future of this natural attraction by upgrading the infrastructure that will help preserve it and to tell the story of the Oparara to enhance the visitor experience in appreciating and understanding the unique history and biodiversity of this special place”. Tourism West Coast is sensitive of the need to ensure a managed growth of visitors from those countries that will seriously appreciate what the Oparara Basin represents.

The recommended improvements include an upgrade of the access road to improve safety (which does not include sealing the road); safety improvements and site preservation work on the Oparara Arch track; a short extension to the Oparara track through the Arch that will improve the visitor experience and safeguard the environment by giving visitors a prescribed track to walk on; a safety rail on the approach to the Moria Gate; an improved electronic security system to safeguard the Honeycomb Cave Special Area; an improved viewing experience at the Mirror Tarn to safeguard the lake edge; the construction of a short loop track from the Mirror Tarn back to the car park to improve visitor safety; and, the telling of the Oparara Story to enhance the visitor experience and understanding of the biodiversity of this special place.

The proposal will be subject to an Assessment of Environmental Effects, which examines the proposed activity and how it will impact the environment in the area. This includes looking at the cultural values, the stability of the landforms, any legislative compliance required, and a full assessment against the Kahurangi National Park Management Plan and the West Coast Conservation Management Strategy policy provisions.

It is acknowledged the management stays with the Department of Conservation and the Oparara Valley Trust remain strong advocates for the protection of the valley and safety of visitors, and the sustainability of the assets.

(10 September 2018)

Development West Coast 2018 Annual Report Released

2017/18 was a transitional year for DWC as it worked toward implementing the outcome of the 2017 West Coast Economic Development Action Plan, which saw DWC as the solution to a fragmented delivery of economic development on the West Coast. DWC was also gearing up for responsibilities likely to arise from the Provincial Growth Fund.

DWC has continued to widen the scope of its support. Leading into the 2019 financial year DWC was in the process of engaging business development managers who will work with new and existing businesses up and down the Coast to provide a greater level of support to our businesses while also looking to attract new business and investment into the region.

In addition to approving 9 commercial finance applications totalling $2.665m, DWC has also co-funded four feasibility studies arising from the Action Plan, a GNS Science Geothermal Study, the Minerals Research Institute and allocated over $500k to Tourism West Coast’s marketing initiatives.

Resources have continued to flow into projects from the Major District Initiative, Extraordinary Distribution Fund and the District Economic Stimulus Fund.

DWC’s Investment Fund had another good year as financial markets stay strong despite the uncertainty in the political world. DWC recorded a profit of $5.2m, which has enabled it to strengthen its balance sheet. DWC has equity of $124.1m as at 31 March 2018.

The 2018 Annual Report is available on DWC’s website from today.
(29 August 2018)

New Vision leads PGF applications

The West Coast Mayors and Chairs met on Tuesday to review the process around applications to the Provincial Growth Fund.

From the meeting in Shantytown on 13 June, the West Coast Mayors and Chairs have endorsed an Economic Development Vision for the region. The Mayors and Chairs will now take this back to their respective Councils.

The Vision sets out the strategic direction for the region and provides direction for economic development on the West Coast.

To date, there have been a large number of projects put forward to be submitted to the Provincial Growth Fund in the coming months. Several of these have already been submitted and are currently being reviewed by the Provincial Growth Fund unit.

The Mayors and Chairs are extremely positive about the progress made to date, and are supportive of the projects that have been put forward by all of the Councils, iwi and other stakeholders.

“We are very excited about the potential in this space, and look forward to announcements from Minister Jones in coming months.”

Meeting of officials from the Coast and MBIE on Thursday will provide a pathway forward to obtaining additional staffing resource to assist in developing the expressions of interest received to date into sound and robust applications.

“We are very appreciative of the support from Minister Jones to assist us with ensuring we have the resources required to get applications “investment ready”. We believe we will be able to achieve much greater success as a result of this help.”

Further information about how applications can be progressed to the Provincial Growth Fund, with assistance from DWC’s Economic Development Unit, will be published in the next few weeks.

(27 June 2018)


Regional collaboration for PGF applications

Elected members from the four Councils and Iwi, and the boards of Development West Coast and Tourism West Coast, met on Wednesday to discuss economic development, and how best to leverage opportunities for the region through the Provincial Growth Fund.

The workshop was supported by representatives from the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, Department of Conservation and Ministry of Primary Industries.

A vision for the future was tested amongst workshop participants. The vision, and underlying strategy, will assist with identifying, and prioritising, initiatives that can contribute to creating a thriving and prosperous region.

The feedback from Wednesday will now be collated by the Development West Coast Economic Development Unit into a series of packages, with the first tranche to be submitted to the Provincial Growth Fund in August.

The future of stewardship land was also robustly discussed. Identified as a significant issue for the region, West Coast attendees voted to seek the review of stewardship land as per the original government process outlined in 1987.

The West Coast Mayors and Chairs will be meeting with Minister Shane Jones, and potentially Acting Prime Minister, Winston Peters, next week to discuss this issue further, as well as highlighting the collaboration that is underway across the region in economic development.

The West Coast Mayors and Chairs would like to acknowledge the input to the workshop from all 38 attendees.

“A gathering of this nature has not occurred for many years, and the value of such an event to work together to drive the future of the West Coast forward cannot be underestimated,” they said.

(14 June 2018)


Karamea's Oparara Arches to get major business case study

Tourism Resource Consultants and WSP-Opus have been awarded the contracts for a Feasibility Study and Business Case for the Arches. TRC will focus on the business case with WSP-Opus providing the road engineering input.

Tourism West Coast and Development West Coast reviewed a number of proposals and after a robust evaluation awarded the contracts. The Project is funded equally by MBIE and DWC as part of the West Coast Regional Growth Study.

Tourism West Coast CEO Jim Little says, “The Oparara Arches are a magnificent natural attraction that has been identified by TWC as one of the six iconic places for visitors to the Coast. The objective is to create visitor dispersal to the most Northern part of the region which will have an impact on Westport right through to Karamea, this is part of the Tourism Strategy to 2021 and beyond.”

Tourism West Coast’s appointed consultants will be working closely with the Department of Conservation, the Oparara Valley Trust, Iwi and all other identified stakeholders to ensure transparency and local input.

The Oparara Arches combined with the Heaphy Track, Old Ghost Road, Cape Foulwind Seal Colony and Denniston Incline along with other visitor activities will help grow the Northern West Coast appeal to domestic and international visitors.

For further information contact Jim Little 03 768 6675 or Penny Bicknell 021 721 388

(16 March 2018)


Kawatiri Coastal Trail milestone reached

The Kawatiri Coastal Trail took a little step closer to becoming a reality in late January. The Charleston to Westport Coastal Trail Trust which is driving the proposal recently selected the consultant companies that will carry out its $100,000 feasibility study and business case. Development West Coast and The Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment have jointly funded the feasibility study as part of the 2017 West Coast Economic Development Action Plan.

Trust Chairperson Richard Niederer says “it’s really exciting to be able to get some traction towards building the family friendly 54-kilometre cycling and walking heritage trail after more than 2 years of preparation and scoping. There has been a significant amount of work carried out by the trust, stakeholders and local supporters to get to this point and we look forward to a positive outcome from the feasibility study and business case.”

West Coast branches of Opus will be carrying out the engineering and ecology components, while Chris Coll Surveyors, based in Westport will complete the survey work. The business case, associated cycle trail research and the full final report will be compiled and completed by Wellington-based company Martin Jenkins which also carried out the West Coast Regional Growth Study. On top of this, there will be significant volunteer contributions by various trust members in their specialist areas of geology, geotechnical and civil construction, landscape architecture, marketing and communication, heritage, interpretation and financial.

Richard says “The trust is very fortunate to have full support from local and regional authorities, Iwi, and the wider community who see the ongoing local benefits of the trail. We are initially aiming conservatively for 8000 trail users per year which could contribute around $4 million dollars per year to the local economy. We envisage this to increase to 20,000 users in subsequent years. That will present new jobs and new business opportunities for locals and more sustainable visitor spending throughout the district.”

The feasibility study and business case will be completed by this June and a decision to proceed will be made in the months following. If given the go-ahead the trail is proposed to be completed and fully operational by 2020. The trust will be hosting a series of public information meetings to run through the trail concept and its aspirations starting early March.

(1 March 2018)