Top Scoops

Book Reviews | Gordon Campbell | Scoop News | Wellington Scoop | Community Scoop | Search


Chopper pilots challenge Conservation Board over noise

Chopper pilots challenge Conservation Board over noise complaints

Helicopter pilot Matt Newton and his daughter Lillian. Photo: Lois Williams

A West Coast tourism company says restricting flights over wild country could put it out of business.

The owner of Hokitika's Precision Helicopters Matt Newton and his daughter Lillian, a newly-qualified chopper pilot, turned up to speak at this week's meeting of the West Coast Tai Poutini Conservation Board.

Mr Newton said he was alarmed by recent comments from the board chairman Dr Keith Morfett, about the increase in air traffic over the Hokitika backcountry, and complaints from trampers and climbers in many areas about the growing noise nuisance.

"I read in the Grey Star about these calls to restrict flights ...I 'd never heard of a Conservation Board and it was disturbing to hear this."

Mr Newton said he came to the West Coast from Taranaki last year to set up a helicopter tourism business, after work in the oil and gas industry business fell off.

"We got consent to set up our base in the Hokitika Gorge, spent a lot of money and Lillian's just got her commercial pilot's license," Mr Newton said.

He had seen only four helicopters, one plane and a handful of people in the backcountry in that time.

"We have a deal with DOC: we keep away from huts and tracks and places where there are people and look for other landing spots if we see any. We don't go roaring around disturbing people, so where do these complaints come from?"

Board member Barry Hughes said the Conservation Board was not seeking to stop Mr Newton flying, but it was interested in trying to maintain a balance so that people could enjoy the wilderness in silence.

"I have had direct comments from many people who use the mountains and say it used to be quiet, but no longer (is)."

Mr Newton said the people he ferried to the mountains were often people who would no longer be able to get there under their own steam.

"You can get up to the Williamson Glacier when you're young, but how else are you going to get up there when you're 70?" he said.

"Older people have a right to be able to get up there and enjoy the silence too ... they stay for days, some of them."

Dr Morfett said the board had had comments from across the region from outdoor recreational groups about the spread of aviation into places that used to be quiet.

"This is an ongoing discussion, and we will be focusing on the air traffic issue at our next meeting in Franz Josef in February," he said.

© Scoop Media

Top Scoops Headlines


Keith Rankin: Our Neanderthal Ancestry

After my partner read Dan Salmon's novel Neands – written during lockdown in 2020 – I decided to renew my interest in our distant ancestry, in part with a concern that homo neanderthalensis has been unable to shake off, so far, its unflattering reputation in popular culture... More>>

Ian Powell: Rescuing Simpson From Simpson

(Originally published at The Democracy Project ) Will the health reforms proposed for the Labour Government make the system better or worse? Health commentator Ian Powell (formerly the Executive Director of the Association of Salaried Medical ... More>>

Missions To Mars: Mapping, Probing And Plundering The Red Planet

In the first month of 2020, Forbes was all excitement about fresh opportunities for plunder and conquest. Titled “2020: The Year We Will Conquer Mars”, the contribution by astrophysicist Paul M. Sutter was less interested in the physics than the conquest. ... More>>

Jennifer S. Hunt: Trump Evades Conviction Again As Republicans Opt For Self-Preservation

By Jennifer S. Hunt Lecturer in Security Studies, Australian National University Twice-impeached former US President Donald Trump has evaded conviction once more. On the fourth day of the impeachment trial, the Senate verdict is in . Voting guilty: ... More>>

Binoy Kampmark: Let The Investigation Begin: The International Criminal Court, Israel And The Palestinian Territories

International tribunals tend to be praised, in principle, by those they avoid investigating. Once interest shifts to those parties, such bodies become the subject of accusations: bias, politicisation, crude arbitrariness. The United States, whose legal and political ... More>>

The Conversation: How To Cut Emissions From Transport: Ban Fossil Fuel Cars, Electrify Transport And Get People Walking And Cycling

By Robert McLachlan Professor in Applied Mathematics, Massey University The Climate Change Commission’s draft advice on how to decarbonise New Zealand’s economy is refreshing, particularly as it calls on the government to start phasing out fossil ... More>>

  • PublicAddress
  • Pundit
  • Kiwiblog