Approval for two Targa closures

The Queenstown to Glenorchy road will be closed for half a day for the Targa South Island motor rally despite the opposition of police, the Department of Conservation (Doc) and others.

The Queenstown Lakes District Council yesterday unanimously approved Targa New Zealand's application to close the road to the ''top of the lake'' - which has no alternative route - from 1.30pm to 7pm on Saturday, November 1.

The council also approved closing the Crown Range-Cardrona Valley road between the State Highway 6 junction and Cardrona village from 7.45am to 1pm on the same day.

The rally, a six-day event on sealed roads, is coming to the South Island for the first time in its 20-year history.

Targa New Zealand managing director Peter Martin told councillors the rally was a ''travelling motorshow'' accompanied by an entourage of 2500 people who would spend two days in the district and spend an estimated $1.2 million a day.

The council received 10 submissions opposing the closures, including eight on the Queenstown-Glenorchy road.

One submission was later withdrawn.

Senior Sergeant John Fookes, of Queenstown, wrote that he opposed the application on the grounds the road was the ''sole means of access'' to Glenorchy for emergency services, while Doc said the closure could compromise the safety of trampers - many of whom would be unaware of the event - because of disruption to their plans.

Mr Martin said Targa New Zealand had modified its original application by starting the rally stage from Farrycroft Rd at Closeburn instead of from the Fernhill Rd roundabout, so fewer residents would be affected.

In response to a question from Cr Cath Gilmour about the impact on businesses using the road, he said people who registered with Targa in advance could be escorted along the road at set times.

He accepted that ''transient tourists'' were the biggest concern, and Targa would work with rental car companies, Doc and police to ensure as many visitors as possible were informed.

Mr Martin told the Otago Daily Times he had asked to attend the meeting after he saw the number of objections and the reasons behind them.

The Queenstown-Glenorchy road stage was the event's ''jewel in the crown''.

He had been surprised by the police's opposition, claiming it was the ''first time ever'' police had opposed a road closure application in the rally's 20-year history.

Blanket Bay luxury lodge general manager Brent Hyde said although he remained opposed to the closure, appealing the decision would be ''counter-productive'', and Targa had proposed ways of transporting the lodge's guests and staff along the road throughout the afternoon.

Glenorchy Community Association chairman Pete Reid said while the decision would upset some residents, ''there will be a lot of people and fundraising groups who will be pretty happy''.