Is Nick Smith our very own Lyle Lanley?

Looks like Nick Smith is looking at a genuine, bonafide, electrified, six car monorail for Fiordland.

Conservation minister Nick Smith today inspected the proposed route for the $200 million Fiordland monorail and released official advice recommending approval. 

Riverstone Holdings run by Wanaka-based Bob Robertson propose a tourist trip using a catamaran from Queenstown to Mt Nicholas Station, an all-terrain vehicle drive to Kiwi Burn, near the Mavora Lakes, and then a 41-kilometre monorail ride to Te Anau Downs.

The route does not run through Fiordland National Park but is partly included within the Unesco Te Wahipounamu world heritage area.

Smith, who axed a separate bid to drill a bus tunnel between the Routeburn Rd and Hollyford Rd by Milford Dart Ltd earlier this year, has the final say.

Speaking in Queenstown, he said a decision was possible by the end of the year but the final call was no easier than the decision on the Milford tunnel.


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  • sheppy

    It will probably work out more profitable than Len’s train set!

    • andrew carrot

      Do you actually mean it’ll lose less than Len’s train set?

      • sheppy


    • Mr_Blobby

      Yes it would mono for monopoly and price gouging the tourists.

  • Muzza

    When I saw the announcement on the news last night, my first thought was “wonder if the Whale will put a link to the Simpson’s classic monorail skit?” I guess so.

    • Orange

      Yeah, was thinking of sending the link in but on first look at WO, boom, there it was.

  • Eiselmann

    I’m not sure its needed, according to that nice Mr Cunliffe theres no one left in the provinces …

  • Dick Brown

    Every time someone mentions “monorail” I instantly turn off as that word is an automatic fail.

    What’s this thing going to carry? Tourists.

    What is it going to achieve for the District as a whole with regard to its infrastructure? “Needs financial chains in the contract so it doesn’t become a white elephant”

    If you want to create purposeful infrastructure for a tourist trap build a sodding road to it and build a walking track and make the buggers work off their soft drinks.

    Monorail…. hahahahah

    • Andy

      We already have several walking tracks that link the Queenstown area with Fiordland. Routeburn, for example

      • Dick Brown

        Exactly Andy, and world-class things they are too.

        Are they still horrendously over-booked? If so there’s your market; not some crazy-ass monorail

        • Andy

          We booked as a family of three to walk the Routeburn in January, so it’s not overbooked.

          The monorail will be an “experience” for those who don’t have time or inclination to walk. Is it a good idea? Don’t know. Sounds very expensive

          • andrew carrot

            If the proposers say they are going to utilise high quality rolling stock, they should be contractually bound to do so. Monorails have dreadful reliability records. Even Disneyland’s breaks down frequently!

          • Andy

            There is the weather aspect too. Snow is forecast down south this weekend.

          • Mr_Blobby

            It will be expensive. I have 2 problems with it 1. Mono for Monopoly and 2. It does nothing to reduce the travel time between Queenstown and Milford Sound.

  • Wine Man

    This project will be doomed to failure if it gets the go ahead. The numbers being expressed on cost are far too low and the ticket prices will have to be too high for the average NZer or backpacker tourist to use it. I am picking it will be dropped by National as a gesture to the green vote as they go ahead with Transmission Gully

    • Mr_Blobby

      May well fail, but the price gouging in Queentown is astounding. There is serious money down there, some might say a license to print.

      • Wine Man

        Print? I would say grow, Queenstown is overflowing with Drugs and the Police turn a blind eye to it

  • tarkwin

    I don’t know much about this, but at least the tax payers aren’t funding it. that alone has to be a good thing.

    • Mr_Blobby

      Yes Tark a big positive, but steps should be taken to allow competition, my vote is for a private road tunnel that is open to everyone and tolled.

  • BJ

    A filmmaker could follow the route of the proposed monorail and film all the environment as it would hypothetically be seen from the proposed monorail carriages. This can then be viewed by anyone that wants an armchair experience of NZ’s unspoilt natural environment – because thats all they will get from a seat in a manmade metal means of transport. A rail experience can never match the lasting memories and feelings evoked from moving through our less accessible environs while travelling by foot under ‘ones own steam’. Its the stopping along the way – to ‘take it all in’ – when it feels right to do so that enriches ones wilderness experience and being transported will just cheat visitors out of anything truly meaningful. Anyone happy to settle for a less may as well stay at home and watch it all go by on a big screen so the wilderness can be left like it is for all good reasons.

  • Toryboy

    As someone on holiday – my honeymoon, actually – in the area at the moment I can assure everyone it is a truly marvellous idea.

    Yesterday we drove from Queenstown to Milford Sound and what a massive hassle!
    Driving several hours on roads I don’t know (obviously) and although the scenery is magnificent it would be a lot better to just jump on a train to avoid map reading and scouring road signs.

    Thank you Mr Smith for ignoring the socialist greenie wankers – please give this project approval.

    Oh – and as for the Te Anau businessmen cry babies on the news last night, claiming it will cost them customers, I suppose all the brand new Beemers and Merc’s I have seen being driven around town belong to tourists? (yeah, right!)

    It seems to me all the opposition to this proposal is yet another pathetic tall poppy syndrome wankfest by the envious.

    • Mr_Blobby

      Queens town exists for one reason and one reason only. Tourism. They have no other industry.

      There is some serious money tied up in real estate down there, all of it from price gouging tourists.

      We stayed in a very nice house up in the hills. $550 a night, cheaper option than hotels, for a party of 12. Rented a van and a car. Mostly cooked our own food. There are only three things to do in Queentown, the actual shot over jet not the lake based jets, the Gondolas, and a boat trip on the lake, Ernslaw cruise to Walter Peak farm for diner, my first trip many years ago I stoked coal in the engine room for the return trip, brilliant experience. All the rest are just Tourist rip offs. If you want to do a bungy jump, go to the original one over the river, the height makes no real difference to the experience, the river jump was the original.

      • John1234

        You missed some rather important activities – The walking tracks, the skiing and the golf. All are fantastic and not overpriced based on international price comparison and quality.

  • Corner_shop_not

    Everyone in this project is talking about ‘tourists this’ ‘tourists that’
    As someone who works in the upper markets of the tourism industry – i can tell you there is very little support for this monorail/catermaran/4wd mish-mosh within the tourism industry.
    95% of us in the game do not want to mess about with this sort of hair brain collection of transport modes, when we have long standing successful arrangments with many businesses already for the journey into Milford by road. And the road journey is actually half of the whole experience not just Milford itself ! we don’t wish to deal with a single operator with pipe dream ideas of high charges and no competition.
    Apu has spoken. Thank you come again.

    • Mr_Blobby

      Part one. Yes.

      Part two. No. Have just done it on Monday, long and boring, followed by a road that was never going to open and a long boring trip back, complete waste of a day, have already secured the refund. Would have a go at the booking agent, for compensation, if I could for wasting a day of my trip.

      Part three. Yes. Mono is for Monopoly.

  • Mr_Blobby

    Letter to Nick Smith

    Dear Minister

    As luck would have it I have just returned from a 4 day trip
    to Queenstown. So I would like to give you my perspective from a Tourists point
    of view.

    There were 12 in our group; most of the group were overseas
    visitors, who wanted to specifically go to Queenstown, other wise we would not
    have gone.

    It was my third trip to Queenstown over the years; we travel
    a lot more than the average person. Mostly overseas as it is cheaper to have a
    holiday just about any where else than, say, Queenstown, starting with the cost
    of the airfares, admittedly they have come down over the years.

    For one of our 2 full days in Queenstown we booked a trip to
    Milford sound. Have never been there before, put off by the length of the trip.

    Anyway, meet at the bus pick up point at 6.30am for book in,
    for a 6.50am departure. Returning at 8pm. A long day.

    They knew the road was closed when we departed, but it was
    not until the half way point that we were told that he road was closed, the
    procedure is to carry on in the hope that the road would open by the time we
    got there, judging by the number of busses travelling back early it was not
    looking good. When we finally got to the last leg we were advised that the road
    would remain closed until 7am the next morning, so we were turning back to
    retrace our route back to Queenstown arriving at 4pm. No boat trip, no lunch,
    no Milford sound.

    Initially the scenery was good cameras were clicking and
    people were happy then came the farmland and the boredom set in. A Break at Te
    Anau for a pit stop then on again, more good scenery and the cameras were out
    again. So you leave Queenstown drive south for about an our then drive west for
    about an hour then turn north for over an hour nearly 4 hours. The trip back
    was dead boring with a lot of unhappy people requesting a refund. A total waste
    of a day.

    Part of the commentary up was the pricing, ranging from $379
    pp to $650 pp, should we want to fly back to Queenstown, not sure but as the
    crow flies probably 50-80 km as apposed to 3-500 km by road. Cheaper to fly
    Auckland – Queenstown (1000 km)

    Now, not sure if I like the idea of a mono rail that does
    not shorten the trip. But the proposed road tunnel that promised to knock
    several hours off a very long trip, gets my vote. Not sure what the
    environmental impact would have been. But given the carbons miles and
    maintenance of the current route, I find it hard to imagine that it would have
    been any worse than current situation.

    The proposed tunnel would not have bypassed the road closure
    that stopped our trip.

    On the Plus side

    Shorter trip times, less stress and a more enjoyable

    Somebody else has offered to pay for it, not the TAX payer.

    On the negative side

    You say, environmental impact

    Vested money interests, looking to maintain the current

    The last day we were there, before we flew out, we did a
    road trip to Glenorchy, you could feel Milford sound just over the mountain

    What price progress Dr Smith, you sound more like a green Taliban,
    wanting to ban everything, more and more.

    Mono rail, smells of Monopoly. It will not shorten the trip.
    A private road, as part of the approval process, could allow access to other
    operators, say a toll to help pay for it.

    I cannot recommend Queenstown as a tourist destination,
    there are better and cheaper options overseas and in New Zealand.

  • Bart67

    He most certainly is, and in Len Brown we also have our very own Mayor ‘Diamond Jim’ Quimby too!

    It’s uncanny, Jim Quimby was also sprung having an affair with an asian woman!

  • Kimbo

    Fark, We haven’t got decent transport in our largest city but we can ruin Fiordland with a monorail ? Insanity.

    • John1234

      How does a monorail ‘ruin Fiordland’?

      If this thing ticks the DOC boxes and is privately funded, then best of luck to them I say.

      • Kimbo

        Each to his own – i go to Fiordland for the unspoilt scenery, if I want to see/utilise monorails I go to Singapore. Our greatest natural resource is our “unspoilt” natural environment – You run technology through it you’ll never get it back. Buy a pair of tramping boots, go there, and then come back and have this conversation..

        • John1234

          Oh well, it will only be visible from about 0.0001 % of the Fiordland park?