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New Zealand seeks a greener kind of tourism as it reopens borders after Covid

Spots like Milford Sound that once ‘heaved’ with visitors recovered their tranquillity during lockdown – and ministers hope to keep it that way

At the mouth of Milford Sound, the car parks sit empty. Of the 40 spaces reserved for convoys of buses, just two are occupied. The cliffs, rising sheer from dark, still water, are capped by mist, waterfalls unravelling like twine, nothing to interrupt the view. The cruise ships that once appeared over the horizon haven’t visited in years. When the ferry sets off, an entire floor of vinyl seats sits unoccupied.

These are the last days of New Zealand’s forced isolation from the world’s tourists, and even Milford Sound/Piopiotahi, considered the crown jewel of New Zealand’s natural landscapes, is sparsely attended. Its beauty has long made it one of the country’s biggest tourism draws. Despite being extraordinarily remote – no mobile phone service or wifi, no clusters of shops and restaurants, one road in and out – Milford Sound welcomed almost 900,000 visitors in 2019, to a settlement with a permanent population of fewer than 200. The year the pandemic hit, it was expected to surpass 1 million.

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Read the original article at The Guardian

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