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New motel building proposed for Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park

A new hotel building could be built on 26 Bowen Drive in Aoraki/Mt Cook Village. Photo: Pseudopanax@Wikimedia

A 2500㎡ development including a new motel building has been proposed in Aoraki/Mt Cook National Park.

Grand Properties Limited has applied for a 50 year concession to expand its Aoraki Court motel in Mt Cook Village from 25 units to 37 units. This will include constructing two new buildings totalling 500㎡, two 800-litre diesel tanks and additional car parking, driveways and landscaping totalling 2500㎡.

The Minister of Conservation has notified its intention to grant the concession and public submissions are open until January 31.

In its report on the application, DOC said the proposal was consistent with the National Park Act and other plans and policies.

The report said the development posed little risk as it was an extension of an existing motel.

However, both Federated Mountain Clubs (FMC) and the Canterbury Aoraki Conservation Board called for the application to be put on hold until a new management plan had been developed for the National Park, which is currently being consulted on.

In its submission, FMC deputy president Jan Finlayson said the proposal would have a significant impact and if the application couldn’t be delayed, it should be declined.

She said the proposal was contrary to the principles of the current plan for the national park, which aimed to ‘preserve in perpetuity in their natural state, as far as possible, the landscapes, ecosystems, and natural features of Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park’.

New accommodation for the park should be established on private land, not in the National Park, she said.

“No national parks policy guidance encourages construction of facilities to accommodate increased visitor numbers. Rather, the opposite – accommodation provision outside the park is preferred,” Finlayson said.

If DOC approved the application, it could set a dangerous precedent.

“There is real risk that the approach of limiting notification could be a precedent leading to applications for significant developments in Aoraki/Mount Cook National Park receiving much less public scrutiny than desirable, and potentially being approved inappropriately.”

A hearing on the application is set for February 22.