Limiting the number of helicopters on the Ngapunatoru Plateau

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The Department of Conservation was using a trial period to get around aircraft landing limits set by the park management plan, in a particular area of Fiordland National Park. The Fiordland National Park Management Plan prescribes limits to the number of aircraft landings that can occur at the Ngapunatoru Plateau each day and year. An aircraft cannot land within the Park unless it has a concession (permission).

Nine different companies were allowed to land on the Ngapunatoru Plateau, a part of Fiordland National Park designated as a "remote wilderness area".

Because of increased tourism to the area, more people wanted to go to the area than the initial landing limits would allow. To get around this, in February 2016 the Department of Conservation issued a trial of increased landing limits that saw most of the companies' allowances increased from one or two landings every day, or three per week, to 10 per day. (This also includes "unlimited" helicopter landings by one company.)

The Federated Mountain Clubs made a complaint to the Ombudsman about the decision, and he investigated.

The Ombudsman recommended the Department of Conservation stop its trial of increased landing limits at the Plateau, and make sure that existing concessions are made consistent with the Fiordland National Park Management Plan. The Department agreed to do this.

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