Call to re-visit Westland to Milford link

Durham Havill. Photo: ODT files
Durham Havill. Photo: ODT files
As the impact of Covid-19 starts to hit, advocates of the Haast-Hollyford Road are working to get the proposed $205 million Westland to Milford link back in the limelight.

Haast Hollyford Highway Ltd chairman Durham Havill said it was the ideal time to re-visit the toll road vision.

"There's thousand go into Milford Sound. If half of them come up the West Coast or even a third it would just revitalise the whole place again and give tourism the boost it is going to need."

Mr Havill said he would love to see the long term project realised in his lifetime, but said a lot depended on the coalition 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 Greens and Government, you just couldn't see it happening but hopefully common sense will prevail eventually."

Before the last election, Mr Havill and fellow staunch supporter Westland Mayor Bruce Smith got the backing of now deputy leader Winston Peters.

However, that support is yet to amount to anything.

Chinese investors were once committed to the project. However, Mr Havill said the interest now was within New Zealand.

"The return on investment is great.

"It's the last real highway needed in the whole of New Zealand and gives the whole round trip of the South Island.

"It's where the tourists are and go and that's why its so essential that we see it happen."

Mr Smith said while he was no longer privy to discussions that were happening around the road, he understood the investment was still there within New Zealand.

"The Haast to Hollyford is a project that is unfinished. It's been around a while in the same way the Karamea to Collingwood (road) has. Either would be an incredible boost for the Coast."

The Mayor said the most damaged section of the Coast economy was tourism, including operators, accommodation providers, cafes and restaurants.

"The concept of leaving operators to fight their way to the bottom of the barrel where they all fail or are mortally wounded is not worth consideration."

The idea of the 136km road link connecting the West Coast and the Milford Sound-Te Anau road via the Hollyford Valley was resurrected in 2010 by the defunct Westland District Property Limited subsidiary.

The sticking point remains the estimated 98km of new road that would be constructed through wilderness and the Fiordland National Park.

In her first few weeks in office Conservation Minister Eugenie Sage signalled an end to all new mining on conservation land and also indicated that windthrow logging legislation on the West Coast would not be renewed.

As an opposition MP in 2015 Ms Sage told Parliament the Hollyford road would cut through the south-west New Zealand World Heritage Area.

- Janna Sherman of the Hokitika Guardian

 

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