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Doc Decision Enhances Environmental Outcomes While Paving Way For Huge Investment In Canterbury Tourism

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

Porters Ski Area owners, Blackfish Ltd, today welcomed the decision by the Director General of Conservation, Al Morrison, to approve in principle a land exchange agreement proposal allowing Blackfish Ltd, limited free holding of land in neighbouring Crystal Valley.

Under the proposal the Department of Conservation ("DOC") would exchange about 198 hectares of leasehold conservation land in Crystal Valley in return for a 70 hectare block of rare coastal lowland forest . Blackfish would also surrender 320 hectares of leasehold land in the Porters Valley to DOC.

"This innovative approach is a win/win for all parties and shows progressive leadership by DOC," said Mike Sleigh," Director of Development Porters Ski Area Ltd. "It's a significant gain for New Zealand's environmental and tourism outcomes.

"Long term access to Crystal Valley is critical to the success of the Porters Ski Area Expansion and this decision also preserves conservation values. This is important to us, as we understand our role as custodians of the environment.

"In our view this is an excellent example of progressing "green growth" in the tourism sector. The environment is a critical part of this unique project. We look forward to partnering with DOC to ensure that public access and other environmental goals are achieved.

"Freehold title is critical to this project progressing. This decision gives investors confidence and certainty to move forward," he said.

Porters Ski Area Expansion would see an investment of over NZ $500 million over 10 to 15 years. It is estimated to attract over $89 million per year in visitor expenditure when fully developed.

Porters proposes three main expansion areas:

1. Build a year round alpine eco-village at base of ski area

2. Expand into neighboring Crystal Valley with six new ski trails, an access gondola, three high speed chairlifts and a second day lodge

3. Upgrade existing Porters' ski area with new high speed gondola from the village to the summit.

"Porters is an hour's drive from Christchurch International Airport and offers the longest vertical run in the Southern Hemisphere. We are constructing New Zealand's first "on-mountain" alpine village. At full development the expansion will create almost 1,000 full time equivalent jobs for Canterbury and aims to attract 300,000 skiers per year, he said."

"With its close proximity to Christchurch, the expanded ski area, alpine village and accommodation and easy and safe access, Porters will offer the most convenient family skiing in New Zealand. This will be very attractive to New Zealand and Australian families. The alpine village will also increase summer activities in the region with year-round facilities.

"We believe the Porters Ski Area Expansion represents the most exciting tourism development in New Zealand in 30 years and this partnership with DOC will enhance the legacy we will both leave the rest of New Zealand .

"This decision is great news for the environment, Canterbury and for the NZ Tourism industry."

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