Fox Glacier access decision next week

Fox Glacier. Photo: Supplied
Fox Glacier. Photo: Supplied
The Department of Conservation says it will decide next week on reinstating access to Fox Glacier, but it has already warned of future damage.

"No matter what level of investment we make, there is no way to prevent further damage," South Westland operations manager Wayne Costello said in a statement yesterday.

The access road to the glacier car park has been closed for almost three weeks, after heavy rain triggered a massive landslip that blocked the Fox River and caused extensive damage to the access causeway leading to the car park and walking track to the ice.

This came only six months after a $1 million repair for which the access road was shut for months at the height of the tourist season.

Mr Costello said the landslip was active and would continue to cause access issues until it settled. Options  being considered included  reinstating access to the glacier valley  by basic vehicle or walking,  through to shifting and full reinstatement of the causeway.

"Each option has pros and cons. Due to the risks and scale of the landslide, along with the uncertainty of West Coast weather events, we are concerned that work we do will be destroyed in the next storm."

More recent storm events had also caused damage to the walking track in the valley and caused  new rockfall zones to become active.

"Safety of people working and visiting in the valley is our primary concern, and managing the hazards so people have safe and enjoyable experiences is where the buck stops," Mr Costello said.

"Long term, until the landslide settles down, access into the Fox Valley is likely remain a huge challenge. We will all have to be patient while this settling down process takes place at Mother Nature’s pace." 

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