Rural Fiordland will get better internet connections thanks to a $13 million investment.
Fiordland will get more connected with the promise of a $13 million injection to improve digital and air connectivity.
Regional Economic Development Minister Shane Jones announced the funding on Friday while highlighting the need for better telecommunications in the rural area.
“The region’s recent flooding, road and track closures highlight the fragility of the infrastructure in Milford Sound and the need for increased resilience,” Jones said.
Destination Fiordland manager Madeleine Peacock said the investment was exciting and long overdue.
“Milford Sound has always been a very remote location,” she said.
“As a world-class destination, we should have world-class infrastructure to go with it.
Jones said improved digital connectivity would allow Fiordland to keep pace with other regions to develop business, employment and tourism opportunities.
“It allows people to work outside urban centres, gain sustainable employment and ensure talent can stay in the regions,” Jones said.
The funding is part of the $12 billion New Zealand Upgrade Programme announced in January.
A $300 million portion was made available for regional investment and was to be administered by the Provincial Development Unit.
Jones said $10 million would be invested in the Milford Fibre Link builds.
The project will provide better internet access to Fiordland by creating connections between 11 mobile towers.
“Reliability of telecommunications in the region, and public safety for those travelling to Milford Sound tourist destinations is another factor in the investment,” Jones said.
A further $3 million will be used to upgrade the Milford Aerodrome.
The money will be used to reseal the runway, apron and taxiway and provide improved drainage at the aerodrome, Jones said.
Milford Aerodrome operations manager Chris read welcomed the boost.
There was always be a need for improving the aerodrome, he said.
As a Crown-owned airport, the aerodrome is managed by the Ministry of Transport who have advised that it would require work within the next three years to remain operational, Jones said.
“The aerodrome is critical to the community and ensures transport resilience in the event of road closures,” he said.