Mark Exton, of Gore, passes through Albert Town yesterday
with another tanker full of West Coast milk bound for
Southland. Photo by Mark Price.
Transport and milk companies in the South have been
mucking in to ensure West Coast milk does not go to waste and
tankers have even been crossing Haast Pass.
Damage to the Wanganui bridge at Harihari on January 2 cut
State Highway 6, meaning milk destined for Westland Milk
Products could not be transported to the company's processing
plant at Hokitika.
Since Thursday, 55 extra road tankers have been helping get
milk to various processing plants - including 18 running
continuously between the West Coast and the Open Country
Dairy Ltd factory, at Awarua, Fonterra's Edendale factory and
the Synlait Milk Powder Factory at Dunsandel.
Dunedin transport operator Peter Dynes said his company had
answered a ''mayday'' and had a team of 36 drivers from
various southern transport companies running a 24-hour milk
Yesterday the company carried 350,000 litres but in the days
when it was ''catching up'' it was shifting up to 600,000
litres in a day.
The milk was from 65 farms south of the damaged bridge.
In all, Westland Milk general manager operations Bernard May
says alternative arrangements had to be made to transport 2.1
million litres of milk.
Normally, much of the company's milk is carried by rail from
Canterbury but the line was also damaged in last week's
Mr May said most of the South Island dairy industry and
trucking companies worked together via a crisis team when
there were problems.
''It's been a very good effort by everyone in the South
Island dairy industry.''
Trucking milk south involved a round trip of more than 18
hours. Drivers were stationed temporarily at Lake Hawea and
Mr Dynes said his company contracted exclusively to Fonterra
but was given a dispensation to answer the milk mayday.
''Because of the circumstances, we rang Fonterra and they
said: `yeah, get into it'.''