From May 1 2015, it will hold a ‘café licence’ only, so alcohol can be sold when food is bought, but not on its own or taken elsewhere as an off-licence sale.
Award-winning tourism operator – Southern Discoveries based in Queenstown, Te Anau and Milford Sound – inherited the bar when it took over the Milford Sound operation in 2008.
Southern Discoveries general manager John Robson said it was a “positive move”, as housing a bar on site at Milford Sound was inconsistent with its aim of providing great customer service.
“As a high quality tourism operator, our first and foremost priority is to deliver the best tourism experiences in Queenstown and Fiordland,” he said.
“We aim to provide a high-class customer service experience, which comes hand-in-hand with ensuring we have our staff’s best interests at heart.”
Mr Robson said staff accommodation was directly behind the bar and noise could often keep boat crews awake into the small hours.
“Milford has changed dramatically over the last 10 years and the pub is no longer the focal point for the community.
“The advent of Sky and wi-fi means more and more Milford staff stay in their rooms to watch sports or movies instead of meeting at the pub.”
Mr Robson said higher numbers of international workers were taking up jobs in Milford, coming from countries where pubs are not part of their cultures.
“Most workers are saving up for the next part of their travels, so not that many are interested in spending their spare time and money in the pub.”
Southern Discoveries is planning to improve and upgrade existing facilities for staff.
“Next season, we’re aiming to increase the amount of staff in Milford which means even better customer service levels on-board our vessels.
“Having the extra room for accommodation will enable us to do that.”
Staff will be treated to a newly refurbished gym and extended café opening hours in the summer to 7pm.
Visitors to Milford Sound will also not be left short of options for food and alcohol, as many travel in self-catering campervans or can stay and eat at Milford Sound Lodge.
The Lodge is open for evening meals all year round and alcohol can bought with every meal.
Milford Sound Lodge general manager Christine Wallace said they had expanded its dinner menu options and restyled the dining and lounge area.
“As part of our ongoing commitment to enhance guest and visitor experience, we’re excited to announce new changes to our restaurant area,” she said.
“Our guests, day visitors and wider Milford community are now able to enjoy new and delicious meal options.
“Although we’re not replacing the bar service at the Blue Duck, we welcome diners to enjoy our relaxing lodge atmosphere, quality dining options and accompanying beverage of choice.”
All Southern Discoveries staff, Milford Community Trust, DoC and other businesses have already been advised of the changes.