Last Thursday the Toe-paw Council held a meeting with Turangi tourism operators to consider plans for the future to maximise the scenic tourist attractions in this region. I was unable to attend so sent them TRM’s wish list instead. This started with the T2T (Turangi to Toe-paw bike trail following SH1 along the lake edge) project as the first priority on Thursday followed by the proposal to reopening Turangi Museum on Friday as the second priority project.
So today is the third priority – to open the only underground power station in the North Island for tourists. It is only a 10 minute drive from Turangi into the Kaimanawas with other attractions such as the Tongariro River, Pillars of Hercules, Poutu Dam, etc. Indeed, it is difficult to imagine how it has been deliberately closed for tourists for the last 40+ years.
These three tourist attractions have been promoted previously as Turangi’s Christmas wish-list – as follows:
Turangi Tongariro tourist attractions…
This is the first – and probably the easiest tourist target to achieve – in Turangi’s Christmas Wish List. The simple aim of Toe-paw Council is to improve the economic status of Turangi, by unleashing the tourist potential available. That is what we have a Council for but in the past they have been focused on enhancing Toe-paw attractions over Oamaru – wherever. So Turangi folk have to promote it themselves.
This is a repeat of our Christmas Wish List posted in 2016 & 2017.
Turangi and the Tongariro National Park region is targeted by smart city refugees seeking more realistic life style considerations. They also recognise it is sitting on unique exciting unrealised tourist projects.
Now, with an increased demand from tourists and to satisfy the increasing need for local employment, it is time they were developed.
Turangi is a quaint little tourist town perfectly located halfway to everywhere on SH1 on the the banks of the world famous trout fishing Tongariro River, surrounded by stunning national parks hiding several secrets. These are absolute gems in terms of potential tourist income which have been deliberately hidden for many years.
Tourism has never been more important – it is now NZ’s biggest export earner (in 2016) contributing $14.5 Billion or 20.7 % of NZ’s foreign exchange earnings for the year ended March. Those Wellington suits – aka economists – who have given up hope for the regions, should realise that NZ’s three biggest export earners are – in order of wealth production, are tourism, dairy and meat – all produced from the struggling futile provincial regions. Well I never…
Turangi ticks all the boxes for tourism growth. So now is the time to expose Turangi’s secret tourism potential… which, ironically, Taupo have been reluctant to promote. Why? They are frightened of any local tourist attractions (ditto the rest of NZ) they cannot compete with.
The extract below is a repeat of another TRM Daily Report… It would provide a wonderful win-win solution for Genesis to win back the Turangi community’s goodwill for no cost. As it was mentioned again at a recent DGLT (Destination Great Lake Taupo) meeting it is still on the Christmas wish list in the minds of locals.
The Caves of Mordor
…… They (Genesis) might have been able to develop dams down the Waikato River without worrying about environmental damage or trout ladders etc. 40-50 years ago during the ‘Muldoon Think Big’ era, but in this new enlightened century their corporate policy is obsolete. They are now accountable.
Previously Genesis earned public goodwill by donating to many worthwhile local community projects such as the Trout Centre, swimming pool complex, etc. Now Genesis have sold off half (49%) of their shares to the public, so many such subsidies have been reduced or eliminated.
In this new age of more sensitive enlightenment those extremes of corporate entities doing whatever they like to the environment, in the name of ‘progress’ (?) have gone. (A recent example was the Carp Farm fiasco in Taupo) Why?
This is largely due to much improved public awareness and greatly improved communications via social media outlets exposing any abuses, such as the one you are reading and through investigative publications such as ‘Fishing & Outdoors’ newspapers. Wonderful stuff…
To compensate the community with a viable solution, but which does not cost Genesis, (as we understand their motives for profit must come first) in Turangi we have the perfect solution. The conceptual basis for this to be of mutual benefit is so simple and obvious to everyone in Turangi, except Genesis.
So on behalf of so many locals and tourists we request Genesis to open up ‘our’ underground power station for public tourist viewing and all will be forgiven. OK? Everything is already there, it will not cost Genesis a cent, and Turangi will be forever grateful. We have been asking them now for many years to open it up, to no avail.
Turangi has only one major industry – tourism – and needs to use every tourist opportunity locally, in the struggle for economic survival. For years we have continually heard of rumours to open up the underground Power Station for tourists visits but it has never happened. That is apart from the odd one day a few years ago during the Turangi ‘Autumn Festival’ when it was always booked out. At TRM we continually receive tourist enquiries as well.
In their last communication – when TRM emailed Genesis on 8 October 2015 – they replied as follows:
TRM Question: ‘Can you explain why Genesis have not allowed tourists trips to your underground power station? Turangi is desperate to develop more tourist opportunities. The Manapouri Power Station visit is one of the best attractions at Te Anau. So why not in Turangi?’
Genesis Answer: “We are in the business of running and maintaining power schemes. Due to limited staff numbers and work commitments we are not set up in house to take public tours.
I agree that NZ inc could do well by this type of activity. But we are simply not geared up for this at this point. We may choose to look at options available to us further down the track.”
Under-ground power station precedents:
A very successful underground power station tourism precedent is at Manapouri in the remotest southern location in the South Island.
The response from Manapouri (x Bruce Nicol, Assistant Operations Manager at Te Anau/Manapouri) confirmed Turangi’s lost $$$ tourist opportunity. i.e. In their summer season of six months in a much more remote location they get about 50,000 tourists each year paying net $20 per person (in 2016) for the power station visit = $1 Million p.a. (Turangi iSite could benefit with that income…) In addition they pay Meridian Energy $5 per head = $250,000 p.a. The full cost to tourists to include the boat trip across the lake is $79/head… Comparatively, conservatively, the Genesis Underground experience should attract over 100,000 visitors p.a. as it is open all year and has easy access from Turangi. Do your sums… $500,000 p.a….
West Island precedent:
There is another similar successful underground power station precedent in the Snowy Mountain scheme. Their hydro power scheme took 25 years to build and employed 100,000 to build nine power stations and provided irrigation via 16 dams. At Tumut No 2 they have underground tourist tours and audio visual displays.
Local Turangi-Tongariro (and Taupo) regional tourism is really neglecting a ‘unique’ opportunity. This is the only underground power station in the North Island. As seen in the photos, everything is ready to go, except Genesis… who remain in denial.
South Island Precedent:
Compare the very remote location of Manapouri (more detailed info below) to the Rangipo Power Station – just off SH1 about 25 km from Turangi, then factor in the additional nearby scenic opportunities including the Poutu Dam and the Pillars of Hercules on the upper Tongariro River…. So at Rangipo the potential would be even greater?
Turangi cannot accept their excuses and delays any longer. They continue to procrastinate and are too lazy – they just cannot be bothered… Yet we are advised by locals who worked on the original power scheme that the construction time was extended to provide for the road in to be sealed and a toilet installed to cater for tourists…
As long as Turangi is struggling to find more tourism opportunities, Genesis really have no legitimate excuse. It is still just (by 1%) a mainly public owned facility. Genesis have a social and moral responsibility now they have withdrawn their subsides for local community amenities. They still owe the region for the long term environmental damage to the Tongariro River that continues to detrimentally affect tourism.
Their ‘limited staff numbers’ excuse is nonsense. Other similar bus tours rely on the bus company and driver for everything. i.e. Manapouri drivers are required to gain an ‘Entry Certificate’ which is a Meridian Energy test for competency, security, safety, and emergency, and all drivers need current first aid certificates. Turangi shuttle bus drivers already have that. All tourists need is Genesis access approval and a swipe card.
SWMBO has offered to make it even more attractive for Genesis, indeed, completely irresistible.
In return for total exclusivity and to increase the payout to Genesis by 100% – (i.e. @ $10 per head x 100,000 visitors p.a. = $1 Million p.a.) and take total responsibility for all health and safety and guiding issues. If Genesis turn that down they will be the only company in NZ to walk away from $1 Million p.a. for doing nothing. Their shareholders would be asking why?. Quite rightly so!
Genesis re-branding exercise:
Early warning – This exclusivity agreement with TRM will require an even more exciting tourist re-branding exercise for the few bored employees and contractors at the underground station, to appeal to the tourist sector. They will need to embrace the concept they are now in the tourist industry by discarding their corporate work overalls and hard hats for more interesting dwarf and orc and hobbit costumes and renaming the underground station as the Giant Cave of Mordor. It is forecasted this proposal will attract more tourists than Hobbiton.
Don’t laugh… SWMBO is always deadly serious when talking about money. Tourists will be visiting the Cave of Mordor for the next fifty years. Need proof? OK then. Compare a film called The Sound of Music (one of SWMBO’s favourites!) was made over 50 years ago but every year still attracts hundreds of thousands of tourists to visit Salzburg…
The Lord of the Rings has already proven to generate similar tourist pulling power. If you doubt this then we challenge you to enjoy getting absolutely ripped off at Hobbiton @ $79 per head to admire a few round doors stuck in a hillside.
SWMBO’s brilliant Cave of Mordor concept will have more 100% pure sensational natural scenery to make it memorable and unique in the North Island. Well worth visiting at only $XX (Shuttle bus price is still confidential at this preliminary cost benefit feasibility planning stage).
If you would like to visit the Cave of Mordor then show your support – you will need to take this initiative a little further than just asking Genesis locally and being refused again.
Go over their heads by emailing this report to local Taupo MP Louise Upston (email@example.com and cc to TRM) for her to take to the Genesis Board (chaired by x-PM 1997-1999, Rt Hon Dame Jennifer Shipley…) and forward copies to the Prime Minister – Rt Hon Jacinda Ardern, and Minister of Tourism, Kelvin Davis.
That appears the only way we will influence the present local (heads in the sand) management. Please forward this report to them all. Thanking you all in anticipation… Don’t forget to wish them a Merry Christmas!
Manapouri Power Station
At 850 MW installed capacity (although limited to 800 MW due to resource consent limits), it is the largest hydroelectric power station in New Zealand, and the second largest power station in New Zealand.
The station is noted for the controversy and environmental protests by the Save Manapouri Campaign against the raising the level of Lake Manapouri to increase the station’s head, which galvanised New Zealanders and were one of the foundations of the New Zealand environmental movement.
Completed in 1971, Manapouri was largely built to supply electricity to the Tiwai Point aluminium smelter near Bluff, some 160 km (99 mi) to the southeast, as well as into the South Island transmission network.
The construction of the station required the excavation of almost 1.4 million tonnes of hard rock to build the machine hall and a 10 km tailrace tunnel, with a second parallel tailrace tunnel completed in 2002 to increase the station’s capacity.
At the moment it is closed for maintenance and is expected to reopen for tourists in October.