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Environment Southland investigates tourism company’s moorings within national park

Environment Southland investigates tourism company’s moorings within national park

Environment Southland is investigating after complaints were received about RealNZs moorings in Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound and Dusky Sound.


Environment Southland is investigating complaints about RealNZs moorings at Milford Sound, Doubtful Sound, and Dusky Sound.

Environment Southland is investigating four RealNZs Fiordland National Park moorings after receiving complaints by boaties that they occupy too much space.

RealNZ holds existing resource consents for two swing-moorings at Harrison Cove in Milford Sound. These were issued in 2012. It upgraded them to multi-anchored leg and moorings earlier this year.

It also installed moorings in Doubtful Sound’s First Arm and Cascade Cove in Dusky Sound this year. Both of these moorings have received resource consents. However, some boat owners believe that these moorings could cause navigational hazards.

Paul Hulse, Environment Southland integrated Catchment Management general manager, stated that if the moorings at Harrison Cove were to be changed from what the current consent states, it would likely require a new application for consent under the appropriate category.

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He stated that the 2012 consents were issued for the occupant of the coastal marine area with swing mooring and not the new multi-anchor leg docking systems that had been put in place.

Hulse said that the regional council was investigating after a few complaints regarding the moorings.

A review is underway to determine if the new moorings comply with the consents. A second investigation is underway to determine if Harrison Cove has met its consent requirements.

We cannot comment on these concerns while the investigations are ongoing. The investigation is still ongoing and no decision on next steps can be made.

Stephen England-Hall, chief executive officer of RealNZ, stated that the company upgraded its existing Harrison Cove moorings in Milford Sound to multi-anchor-leg mooring systems.

He said that the anchors for the new moorings were anchored into the seabed using an helical screw pile.

When asked if the Harrison Cove moorings upgrade required a new consent, the answer was: “We have consents for Harrison Cove moorings, and consents to our new moorings Cascade Cove & First Arm were granted in February 2022.

He stated that the company chose to install multi-anchor legs moorings because they were superior and offered significant environmental and safety benefits over swing moorings. This included no seabed disturbance and a reduced swing area. They also had greater holding power.

The anchors can be screwed into seabed using a Helical Screw Pile. The seabed is not disturbed by the screw piles and drilling. He said that vessel anchoring would have a greater impact.

John Lucas, DOC Te Anau operations manager, said that RealNZs moorings were a concern in the Fiordland Coastal Marine Area.

The DOC required a Marine Reserve Authorisation for Harrison Cove moorings. He said that an application for one mooring had been received in October 2021. The application was then amended to include another mooring in February 20,22.

He stated that the application was still being processed.

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Rebecca McLeod (Fiordland Marine Guardians Chairperson) is concerned about the new moorings. They are different from block and chain systems.

Environment Southland was contacted by the Guardians with concerns.

Guardians also reported two incidents in which vessels trying anchor at First Arm and Cascade Cove were almost swept away, in which anchor gear got caught in the new anchorings.

She said that the Guardians had received numerous reports from Fiordland Marine Area users, in which they expressed concerns about the location of the moorings.

England-Hall stated that all moorings were a potential danger to navigation.

Real NZ has taken steps to reduce the associated navigation risk. The mooring buoys can be seen clearly and are made of steel so that they will be visible on a vessel’s radar. The moorings can also be identified on marine charts, which will increase awareness among mariners.

Moorings are safer than anchoring and have a lower environmental impact.

Environment Southland did not comment on any navigational concerns raised during its investigation by the Guardians. It has not provided a date for its investigation.

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