West Coast motorists on move as SH6 reopens

A large stretch of highway closed after ex-Cyclone Fehi thrashed southwestern New Zealand, stranding hundreds of motorists, reopened at 11am today. 

The NZ Transport Agency said in a statement that it planned to open the entire section of State Highway 6 from Hokitika to Makarora at that time.

"As soon as this road is reopened there will be a large volume of traffic moving northbound especially and motorists will need to drive slowly and be aware that they need to be vigilant as there may still be road hazards.

"Getting this road reopened will relieve pressure and tourists will be able to move out of the region and continue onwards. Westland families that have been separated will be able to be reunited."

Westland District Council also released a statement to confirm overnight cellphone communications and water supply was restored to Fox Glacier, as well as power to Franz Josef.

"This situation is likely to scale down and the council's focus will then move out of the response phase and into determining social impacts and turning our attention to recovery."

Council spokeswoman Michelle Bunt they were working hard to ensure everyone was safe and critical infrastructure was re-established as soon as possible.

"We are extremely heartened by this latest road reopening forecast. The council would like to express their gratitude and appreciation for our amazing community volunteers across the span of our region who have been working tirelessly."

A de-brief would take place later to review how the situation was managed and identify improvements, she said.

Ex-cyclone Fehi passed over the country late this week, leaving a trail of flooded homes, shredded roads and displaced people - including 115 trapped overnight in their cars near Fox Glacier.

Parts of the Nelson, Buller and Otago regions were also badly affected by the storm.

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