DoC and the Coromandel Heritage Region
Thursday, August 20, 2015 at 10:17PM
Bill Barclay

I have returned to the 56 page document prepared by Chris Adams, and note that although he treads very carefully through what is obviously a minefield concerning DoC's involvement in this region, he neverthe less pinpoints some disturbing facts when comparing their input here compared with comparable regions around the country - particularly Northland.

The following are direct extracts from the Report, taken from two separate areas, but which tie in very closely, and provide what apaesr tto be a very good basis for securing greater a allocation of resources, and recognition by DoC of the needs and attractions that can be provided for the overall benefit of the region and then country. To get the complete picture,you will need to go to Pages 28/29 of the full document to see the very revealing tables that are alluded to in the text, as I am unable to copy them across.

"To turn this strong candidacy into success, the Thames Coromandel District will need Department of Conservation support – a process which has started with a meeting with the Minster of Conservation, Hon. Maggie Barry on June 5th in Whitianga. The author had contact with several managers at DOC – including Andrew Bignell (Strategic Partnerships Manager), Dr Maj De Poorter (International Partner Liaison Officer) and former DOC Director General Hugh Logan (now at Lincoln University)

None offered direct support or encouragement noting that Category V landscapes were not part of the framework for protected landscapes in New Zealand* and that national legislation recognising The Thames Coromandel District would likely be required first (before an application could be made to the IUCN (See Section F: Legal Framework).

This feedback highlights an apparent challenge in gaining the Department of Conservation’s active support for the Coromandel Heritage Region. DOC has a strong focus and tradition around the protection and management of large natural, often wilderness areas with little or no human component – notably New Zealand’s extraordinary National Park network. Interaction with Category V landscapes is a fairly unfamiliar challenge, requiring fresh thinking.

Like New Zealand, the US was a pioneer in the establishment and development of wilderness based ‘National Parks’ but has had little involvement in Category V Protected Landscapes) This challenge is illustrated in its current focus in visitor services, where the vast majority of tracks, visitor facilities and spending is focused on large National Parks in more remote parts of New Zealand.

Comparatively there is far less investment in regions like The Coromandel – closer to major population centres and where recreation is shorter; day or part-day activities. An analysis of DOC’s areas of investment and under-investment in The Coromandel is detailed in Section I: The Case for the Coromandel: DOC & Visitor Services.

In summary, the Department of Conservation has invested modestly in visitor facilities and services in the Coromandel – both in the past and today. Indeed, it can be argued that the Thames Coromandel is almost unique in its level of modest investment from the Department of Conservation given the size of its visitor industry and its proximity to the largest concentration of population in New Zealand. More than 50%, 2.2 million New Zealanders live within approximately two hours’ drive of The Coromandel and the region is one of the nation’s most popular domestic holiday destinations."

and:

"Even when weighted to the size of the visitor industry in the region – the Thames Coromandel has amongst the lowest levels of visitor spending by DOC in the nation – approximately one-third less than Northland and Bay of Plenty/Eastland, half of that of the Nelson/Marlborough region and just one third that of Southland/Fiordland and one fifth of the West Coast DOC Visitor Spending by Area (Source: Dept. of Conservation for Year: 2013 )

The Regional Tourism Estimates published by MBIE on the size of tourism in The Coromandel appear to significantly understate the size of tourism in the region by wide margin so the discrepancies noted above are in fact almost certainly far worse.

This under-investment has led to a sparse range of visitor attractions in the extensive Conservation estate of The Coromandel. Indeed the number of “visitor attractions”, “must see visitor attractions” and huts listed in The Coromandel is amongst the smallest of any region in New Zealand.

A map of the DOC visitor attractions in The Coromandel and Northland highlights the disparity between the two regions. There are 56 attractions in Northland (8 of which are “Must See”) and just 10 in The Coromandel (1 of which, Cathedral Cove, is a “Must See”)

Those DOC visitor facilities available in Coromandel are often heavily used and congested – the Cathedral Cove Walkway is by far the most popular day walk in New Zealand with over 200,000 visitors walking it each year. The track, car parking and the approach road are all heavily congested creating significant management issues for DOC and the Council.

In addition to better serving the domestic and international visitor, Coromandel offers attractions which tie neatly into two major trends that are reshaping outdoor recreation:

 1. Mirroring trends in nature‐based activities/experiences on a global scale, interest in nature‐based activities in New Zealand is shifting with changing demographics, psychographics and trip characteristics. This is driving fast growing demand for short‐ or day‐walks and other easily accessible activities and experiences and flat or declining interest in longer, multi day wilderness experiences

2 .Domestic and international visitors generally have less time and outdoor experience than previously. They want to engage physically with the outdoors but in a way that is easily accessible in terms of location and commitment. They seek short, easily accessible soft adventure activities, escaping from the everyday through nature‐based experiences."

Further posts will follow. on other aspects of the Report.

 


Article originally appeared on BillBarcBlog (http://billbarclay.co.nz/).
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