Southland council not interested in toll road to West Coast

Durham Havill said if half or even a third of Milford visitors came to the West Coast it would be...
Durham Havill said if half or even a third of Milford visitors came to the West Coast it would be the boost the tourism sector.
The Southland District Council says it has no interest in revisiting the Haast-Hollyford road proposal.

Southland Mayor Gary Tong said he was surprised to learn of renewed efforts to get the toll road proposal back before Government, especially as there was a large section wiped out in February's weather bomb.

Mr Tong said the legal road to Humboldt Falls from the Hollyford Road turnoff, where the road link was originally proposed to start, had been greatly affected by slips.

The council administers the road with support from the New Zealand Transport Agency and Mr Tong said it was "low priority" at this stage and it could be years before it was rebuilt.

"It's a very sensitive area prone to flooding, snow and it's on the Alpine Fault."

An airstrip, two Ngai Tahu Tourism-owned lodges and Gunns Camp also remain cut-off following the February flooding.

Mr Tong believed now was not the time to be resurrecting the project on the back of a state of emergency and Covid-19 pandemic.

In recent years monorail and rail tunnel proposals to cut the journey from Queenstown to Milford had also been rejected.

Bringing up the road idea again now would create some disquiet, he said.

It if ever got the green light it would need the support of the Southland District Council and Central Government.

"We've been down this road so to speak before with Bruce Smith and Durham Havill and our council is in no frame of mind at all to look at this.

"We don't want another road that we would have to start spending money on."

Mr Tong said it was fair to say public consultation had resulted in a "lot of negative feeling" in the past.

Haast Hollyford Highway Ltd chairman Durham Havill said if half or even a third of Milford visitors came to the West Coast it would be the boost the tourism sector.

Mr Havill said he would love to see the long term project realised in his lifetime, but said a lot was weighted on the Green Government.

"It's something that's been dear to my heart right back to the old county days. At the moment with the views of the Green's and Government you just couldn't see it happening but hopefully common sense will prevail eventually."

Westland Mayor Bruce Smith said there was a group in Collingwood pushing a proposed road link through to Karamea and a group in Te Anau and the West Coast getting Government interest again for the Hollyford.

However, he conceded it was unlikely to happen under the current Government.

A three-day Fiordland storm from February 4 to February 6 saw more than 820mm of rain in Fiordland.

Milford Road from Te Anau to Milford Sound will be rebuilt, as well as the Hollyford Track, the Greenstone and Caples tracks and the Rees-Dart Track.

The collection of buildings at Hollyford Camp, also known as Gunn's Camp, began life in 1938 as a Public Works Department camp built to accommodate married men who were working on the Hollyford-Okuru Road.

- Janna Sherman of the Hokitika Guardian

Comments

So Mr Tong doesn't know much as he proved in this article.
Benefits are massive and on going. But hey, let's print the guy that doesn't know Jack about it all.

They can't print The Legend. He didn't say anything.

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