The Fiordland monorail

Fiordland monorail

The Fiordland monorail (part of the Fiordland Link Experience) has been designed to be a world-class back country experience to attract visitors to the region and improve New Zealand’s competitiveness as a global tourist destination. Incorporating the world’s longest monorail journey, the Experience has been designed as a significant attraction in its own right. It has not been designed to shorten the journey to Milford Sound and it does not run through Fiordland National Park.

New Zealand falling behind competitors in tourism infrastructure
New Zealand needs three or four new world-class tourism initiatives to regain its status as a leading destination.
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Experience of a lifetime
The project is designed to create a significant, world-class journey that will help attract visitors to New Zealand to enjoy one of the top 10 global day-trips.
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Big wins for Te Anau
The Fiordland Link Experience will provide increased focus on this remarkable region, with Te Anau becoming the hub for visitors to explore Fiordland’s diverse range of attractions.
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Low impact visitor growth
16 years ago, when the project was first conceived, the proposed Fiordland monorail route traversed through National Park land.
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Blazing a new trail
The Fiordland monorail construction service track will become a new mountain bike trail once the monorail is completed, with the potential to become a significant tourism venture in its own right.
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31 responses to “The Fiordland monorail

  1. I recently took an extraordinarily good trip through the northern Queensland rainforest. I travelled in one direction by gondola over the top of the rainforest , and returned from Kuranda through the forest edge via an historic railway.

    My trip brought to mind your proposal for the Fiordland Monorail, and I wish to express my full support.

    There were young Kiwis amongst the many cheerful people working on the gondola and related services, and it made me realise that we will continue to lose our young people to jobs in Australia if, as a country, we are unwilling to enable ventures like the Fiordland Monorail to get off the ground (excuse the pun).

    Congratulations on your foresight and best wishes for your success.

  2. Thanks Philip. The Fiordland monorail project will create much needed jobs in Fiordland in both the construction/manufacturing stage and the operational stage. It also provides access to some of the amazing NZ scenery showcased overseas by Tourism NZ’s Pure NZ campaign that many people (especially aged, disabled, time-poor and emerging tourist markets such as China) can’t normally access.

  3. Just watched a Campbell live story on an 11km tunnel to Milford sound. Rubbish!! Why not install a monorail (or gondola) . Tourists and New Zealanders alike who might not have the opportunity to visit pristine NZ wilderness will be able to have an adventure on the way. And shorten the trip to fiordland by a significant period!! Just build it!!

  4. I stumbled across the Fiordland monorail proposal while Googling the Dart Tunnel proposal that got axed. Funnily enough, one of the papers I’m taking at university at the moment requires us to research and analyse an environmental issue or project. Since the last 5 generations of my family are from Glenorchy and Queenstown and the area has sentimental value to me, I chose the Fiordland monorail as my topic. Personally, I think it is a great idea, and has significantly lessened environmental impact than the old tunnel proposal. When completed, it will be amazing. All the best :)

    • Thank you for your comment. We agree with you. The environmental effects have been assessed as minor by the Department of Conservation after eight years of assessment by consultants and DoC. And the monorail can be scaled up to carry increased numbers of visitors without any additional environmental impact.

    • As it is, Te Anau benefits little from all the hundreds of buses that rush through the town on their way to Milford Sound. The monorail developers, Riverstone Holdings, will market Te Anau internationally as the end destination and package and market the Fiordland Link Experience with Te Anau accommodation and other Te Anau activities. This will significantly increase both the awareness of Te Anau as a destination in its own right and increase the number of bed nights in the town. The mountain bike track that would be created from the construction access track would also increase domestic visitors into the town with mountain bikers able to take their bikes on the monorail and then ride the 30km into Te Anau for a great weekend getaway. Just look at how the Central Otago Rail Trail has revitalised Central Otago and the Maniatoto area.

  5. As a person living in Te Anau/Manapouri I think that the monorail shouldn’t go ahead as it will wrech lots of Fiordland forest and it will also wreck the Mavora Road areas aswell, it won’t cut any time on traveling, if so very little. This is why I think it shouldn’t go ahead as you will destroy perfect places and the enviroment around it meanwhile making tax payers have to pay more money than they need to.

    • Kerri – thanks for your comment. It won’t “wreck” the forest. DOC has assessed its impact will be minor, and it doesn’t go into Mavora Lakes at all. It’s not designed to cut time travelling – it’s been designed as an experience in its own right to showcase our backcountry. As it is privately funded it won’t cost the taxpayers a cent.

  6. Great project. Hope the next decision goes well. I deal in approvals for large projects, happy to provide free submission/ advice as think every tourist has a right to experience nz and this project is a significant enabler and therefore must be assessed on that basis. Important that the focus is not on the detail

  7. yer great just build it then what is next! what about all the wildlife that is going to distroyed no one has said anything about that, Why does it have to be what humans what must come first !!!!!!!!!!! I live in queenstown for 30 years and its being distroyed from what it was so what next our forest?

    • Thanks for your comment McDee. The area affected on the edge of the Snowdon Forest will be 22 hectares in a forest of around 47,000 hectares. None of the area is classified by DOC as “wilderness” or “remote”, nor is it national park. There will be intensive monitoring of wildlife both before and after construction to ensure no wildlife is destroyed.

  8. As an advocate of Monorail, I wish you all the success and as long as you can assure the Greens it will have the least impact of any transport system on earth, it will get the tick of approval. NZ is a damn site smarter than Sydney where construction is concerned..I look forward to riding it.

    • Not everyone on the monorail will want to go to Milford Sound. Some will be going to Te Anau; some will be mountainbiking the trail to Te Anau or back to Queenstown. There is a transport hub proposed at Te Anau Downs. Private operators will provide connecting transport to Te Anau (either by bus or boat), and connecting transport to Milford Sound.

  9. Let’s look beyond the impact of the monorail on where it’s built. The real issue is that Milford Sound is even now reaching tourist capacity, despite being “hard” to get to. Outside of the winter months, the fjords are bustling with huge catamarans full of hundreds of tourists.
    If the aim of the monorail is to make it easier to bring even more tourists into Milford Sound, then this would completely spoil it and reduce it to a overcrowded mass tourism destination.
    Save Milford Sound! – that is why the monorail must not be built!

    • Thank you for your comment. The aim of the Fiordland Link Experience is not to take more tourists to Milford Sound. It’s aim is to create an experience through NZ’s scenic backcountry. Some may go on to Milford Sound with connecting transport; some may take a bus or ferry to Te Anau or carry on round the Southern Scenic route. Others may take their mountain bikes and ride the mountain bike track into Te Anau or back to Queenstown. There are many different experiences available – this is not about pushing more tourists into Milford Sound.

  10. What will the cost be both one way and a return costing.
    how many departures per day are you looking at?

  11. Seems like any structure that’s going to go through our forest is going to damage the environment. “if we do this to our forest, what else can’t we do in NZ”. environment comes before tourism.

    • Not necessarily. Have you seen Kuranda Skyrail in Queensland? Treetops walkway? The road through the Eglinton Valley? The Homer Tunnel? The Hermitage at Mount Cook? Tourism and the environment are not always mutually exclusive

  12. I am totally apposed to the idea. You can already travel by boat on lake wakatipu, drive the road towards mavora, and go by bus to milford sound froim te anau via te anau downs. How on earth will it benefit Te Anau? . Te Anau is the gateway to Milford this proposal aims at taking more business away from the town to the benefit of queenstown. There will be no benefit to the general public and most will not be able to afford to travel this way. Why not complete the road from hast through the hollyford so that the average new zealander can see this part of the world and continue around the southern scenic route.
    I am hopefull that the concession will not be granted.

    • The Fiordland Link Experience has the potential to make Te Anau one of the most vibrant tourism destinations in New Zealand. Like any major project, it has its fair share of detractors. But over the past two months, we have been getting increasingly positive feedback from Te Anau as more people come to understand the very real opportunities available for Te Anau. Where we see the real opportunity to grow the Fiordland tourism industry, is by targeting and delivering the type of tourist Te Anau needs – free and independent travellers who fly in to Queenstown looking for the experience of a lifetime. They have no interest in losing their precious time sitting on a bus. They want to experience backcountry New Zealand. The stunning sights, the open air and the people. That is what we will promise through a multi-million dollar international marketing campaign. A campaign that will promote Te Anau as a destination. That’s our commitment.
      Te Anau hotels, restaurants, shops, stunning scenery, magnificent walks and lake are pivotal to our plans. From the monorail terminus at Te Anau Downs, we plan to establish bus and ferry connections into the town. From there, we will trust Te Anau tourism operators to take over and deliver the experience we’re promising. New businesses will be established with more jobs created and activities offered.

  13. Why not upgrade the existing road to a dedicated tourist route (highway) using the natural course that already exists , develope high efficiency buses (eco/hybrid energy) and bus tourists directly from mt nicholas/ wltr peak to teanau. Tourists get to see some amazing new zealand hinterland farming in practice while cutting a good 2hrs + (if the road is upgraded) of there travel. teanau remains as the gateway to fiordland and everybody wins , Queenstown/ers should not be so self indulgent , take a step back and look at the bigger picture.

  14. I’m a 75-year old Kiwi. I am totally against the monorail intrusion in this area, as well-documented by others. If you guys want to make some money, have a look at Auckland, where traffic is gridlocked in the rush hours – 3 in the morning and more in the evening – and frequently during the day. I live there, and before retiring I wasted many hundreds of hours stuck in it. What is needed here is a network of completely integrated, computer controlled monorail systems. I’ll even come and work for you. Being a believer in the superiority of monorail, I am a member of the Monorail Society, but as above, and espoused to the Society, I am totally against the Fiordland proposal, and I have signed the petition against it. Doug Harris, Auckland.

  15. I understand the local apprehension about this proposal and the fear of it’s environmental impact on such a beautiful peaceful land but let’s face it less traffic and less pollution not just exhaust emissions but tyres oil and all the other wastes associated with cars. From what I have witnessed over the last few weeks this land repairs itself very quickly and with modern construction methods the impact should be minimal. Tourism is what is keeping your towns alive and thriving especially in the Fiordland towns and beyond. The Monorail proposal can only enhance your wealth and prosperity by bringing more tourists just like my family. If the traditional owners of this land have no concern then I wish you luck with this venture and applaud your foresight for improved infrastructure.

  16. I am astounded that there are people that would even think that this monorail will damage, destroy or ruin the national park that you are wanting to show to those that will ride the monorail. This monorail is a fantastic idea… one of the best tourist ideas I have seen in New Zealand for years.
    I have been lucky enough to see all kinds of protected forests, national parks and rain forests all around the world from coaches, boats, trains, zip lines and sky bridges all designed to show passengers the beauty they have to offer… not destroy it.
    As for the cyclists “get over yourselves” tourism is a great thing… remember as a cyclist on these roads you to are a tourist. The roads in this area are not solely yours.
    Again this is a fantastic idea. Well done I can’t wait to ride this monorail. I wish you every success.
    Peter Morris

  17. Hi have you ever considered running the Monorail to Terminate into the Centre of Te Anau ? This would then bring 1000s of day trippers or even people who would travel on the Monorail from Queenstown to get to their accommodation @ Te Anau Township or your own Te Anau Downs Lodge via buses. This would really help build a Gr8 Tourist Attraction for the Te Anau township which would mean that the people & Businesses of Te Anau would support what you hope to acheive by Building this New World Class Tourist Attraction. I will be standing as Independent candidate for Clutha Southland C.S.I with the up & coming General Election I support Regional Developement !
    Karl Barkley ph 027 5940090 Email :

    • Thanks for your comment Karl. Taking the route to Te Anau was investigated at the outset of the project over 10 years ago. There were two problems – no access to land and cost. It was therefore ruled out early on in the project. investigations.

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