A letter from a New Zealander living abroad

Submitted by webadmin on

Name: Craig Purdie

I am surprised and concerned to see this is still going on after all the publicity.  Do most New Zealanders not object to these two projects (tunnel and monorail), or is the government just not listening?  I am a New Zealander who loves the unspoiled outdoor beauty of the country, from the mountains to the sea, spending many happy days tramping and climbing in (almost) every national park.  Now when I visit NZ that is a large part of my activity there.

When growing up in NZ I was under the impression that the NZ mountains and outdoors had a unique beauty that was unsurpassed in the world.  However now I have travelled more I was surprised to find this is not true. There were places even close by in Europe, that matched or exceeded the beauty and grandeur I found in NZ.  There were mountains I could take a gondola up higher and more spectacular than those I climbed in NZ.  There were bluer lakes and higher waterfalls I could see from trains.

However few of the other places I found were as untouched and as 'natural' as NZ; I always felt like a tourist and not like an explorer.  In NZ, although we think of tourists, they are really getting places and doing things the same way we ourselves have done them since kids (maybe not carrying their own bags).  You fit in together in a mountain hut, you both stop at the same places on the road, and curse the slow campervans getting in the way.

Anyhow, it is not the beauty and the sights of our land that I think draw people to take a 24 hour flight to NZ.  It is the 'naturalness', the wildness, the fact you don't really notice the impact of man there, or if you do it is an older, 'hand made' impact of the early pioneers like the wonderful Homer tunnel, the narrow roads with one lane bridges.

NZ is not about sights, it is about a deeper experience. Every time I get to present my NZ to groups of people or friends I am happy to recommend they come and experience it for themselves.  By this I mean the tramping, the wild roads, hills where birds are the only sound you hear, coasts without roads, small towns with my favourite local fish and chip shops.  

However I would never tell someone to come here and take a monorail trip through the mountains.  What would be the point in that when they could get a better mountain train experience closer to home?  I am sorry to tell NZ'ers that the mountains in Europe you see through a train window actually look more amazing than what you could see from a monorail in Fiordland.  

However, if you hire a car or take a bus down the roads, get out and walk for 10 minutes where you see and hear nothing man-made, you get an experience not easily found elsewhere in the world.

Any NZ experience that is truly, uniquely beautiful, must be as natural as we did it when we were growing up here ourselves.  I am really sad if enough people living in NZ now do not see this and stop these projects tearing through Fiordland.