Curio Bay Tumu Toka is a small remote coastal settlement in Southland, best known for its petrified forest and resident yellow-eyed penguins, seals and Hector’s dolphins. It is a major attraction within the Catlins, with around 100,000 visitors per year. As with many favoured tourist destinations in New Zealand, the popularity of the area has led to pressure on the natural and physical environment.
This has given rise to a need for new infrastructure to protect the unique environment visitors have travelled to enjoy, to provide for an improved visitor experience, and to educate visitors about the area’s special environment. The Curio Bay Tumu Toka Infrastructure Collaboration was a project focussed on addressing visitor related environmental issues at Curio Bay in Southland. Three parties (South Catlins Charitable Trust, Southland District Council and the Department of Conservation) came together to agree on a shared vision for the area. Each party through the collaboration identified an infrastructure project they wished to progress, aiming to provide a better experience for tourists to the area whilst addressing the environmental effects of high visitor numbers.
WSP drafted and progressed resource consent applications for each of the three projects. The consenting process posed a unique challenge, as each project needed to progress separately, but was directly connected, and reliant on the other two. Respecting and being cognisant of the important ecological, recreational, archaeological, cultural, landscape values of the area, as well as the high local and regional profile of the project was key in obtaining the resource consents. Additionally, the collaborative nature of the project meant that the requirements and individual project goals of each collaborator were also a challenge.
The outcome of the collaborative project has been the successful obtaining of resource consents and the construction and opening of three significant visitor related infrastructure projects in Curio Bay Tumu Toka. The resource consent applications for each development provided the process through which the collaborators addressed potential effects of each development and developed specific approaches for mitigation. This allowed a unique and collaborative approach to project construction and adoption of specific mitigation in relation to wildlife in this sensitive location.
The physical environment of Curio Bay has been positively altered through the construction of each of the three infrastructure projects. The development of new infrastructure has enabled the collaborators to address the adverse effects of high visitor numbers on the natural environment while improving and enhancing the physical environment. Overall, this project provides an example of collaboration between three organisations with a shared vision seeking specific environmental outcomes in a highly sensitive environment. It has achieved the aim of each organisation and improved overall amenity and visitor experiences, as well as providing advanced protection and conservation of the natural and physical resources of Curio Bay.
The positive community outcomes of this project were recognised by NZPI with an award for Best Practice Integrated Planning and Investigations for the collaborating parties.
- WSP in New Zealand
- Southland District Council
- South Catlins Charitable Trust
- Department of Conservation