The Haast Pass reopened today but the effects have already
hit towns from Haast to Hokitika, with State highway 6 being
open sporadically for only seven of the past 21 days.
NZ Transport Agency West Coast senior asset manager Mark
Pinner said contractors had worked "tirelessly" over the past
three days to clear the road and reinstate single-lane access
around the troublesome slip at Diana Falls, a roadside
waterfall halfway between the Gates of Haast bridge and the
Mr Pinner said they did not have an immediate solution at
"We are working through the viable options for a short term,
and towards a long-term solution, based on our understanding
of how the slip face is moving.
"We have sought advice from a wider pool of engineers, to
ensure we access as much experience and advice as we can."
Further disruptions could be on the way, too, with more
rainfall forecast in the next couple of days.
"Blasting is not an option at this stage because of the
instability of the slip, and the risk that it could create a
much larger problem at the site," Mr Pinner said.
"Most of the immediate work has, and continues to be, the
removal of the most unstable material by sluicing the face."
The effects of the closures are being felt by businesses
right through to Hokitika.
In Hari Hari, Pukeko Tearooms and Store manager Steve Schmetz
said he had gone from about 40 customers a day to less than a
"There are a few campervans but not like we had a few weeks
Those who passed through South Westland, only to be forced to
double back, were often in a bad mood.
"A lot of grumpy tourists are going all the way down there
and have to be turned around," Mr Schmetz said.
Bella Vista Motel Fox Glacier owner Bill Langley said about
10% of their bookings had been cancelled due to the road
"The road has definitely affected numbers going through."
Before the slip, numbers had been going well.
"September had been tracking very well. Things like this road
closure don't help your momentum."
Fox Glacier General Store owner Ash Clarke said some
travellers were arriving there unaware of the closures.
"There's a lot of people turning around, they're on minimum
time ... There's a little bit of frustration out there."
The businesses were feeling the effect, too.
"It's a hard one, you have business interruption insurance
but that's based on last year. This year was looking more
buoyant ... We just hope it settles down before December," Mr
Department of Conservation Haast visitor centre ranger Carl
Baker said the village had been experiencing some positive
spin-offs of the road closure, with tourists stuck there
waiting for the road to reopen. Yesterday alone saw 339
people through the doors � far more than usual.
"Most people are chancing it, thinking the road will reopen.
Or they don't read the signs and find the road is closed then
come and ask us for updates."
In the Haast township, Fantail Cafe manager Aly Brown said a
number of tourists had spent the night there and were having
breakfast at the cafe. "Hopefully, they can move on to rest
of their holiday today."
Johnston Motors owner Eamond Johnston said there was no
business at the garage at the junction, by the Haast River
bridge. It was taking longer than usual to clear the road,
but people were taking it in their stride.
"It's usually not so prolonged, but you can't change it."
Hokitika Glass Studio general manager Barry Wilson said the
disruption would have a major effect on business in Hokitika.
"Yesterday was okay but it's been very lean."
The busy season usually started in October, but news of the
slip would make people reluctant to visit the West Coast, Mr
"Those people who don't come through now, probably won't come
- Nicholas McBride and Christine Linnell of the Greymouth