Slip hits re­tail­ers’ prof­its

Central Otago Mirror - - NEWS - By CHE BAKER

Busi­nesses along State High­way 6 from Haast to Makarora could be fac­ing a sec­ond sum­mer in a row of un­cer­tainty as road clo­sures con­tinue to plague the area. Since a large slip at Diana Falls, where two tourists were killed last month, New Zealand Trans­port Agency con­trac­tors had been work­ing to se­cure the area. The high­way was closed to all traf­fic from 6pm to 8am ev­ery day as a safety pre­cau­tion but heavy rain has meant it had closed com­pletely on mul­ti­ple oc­ca­sions. Makarora Tourist Cen­tre man­ager Michelle St John said on­go­ing clo­sures would have a se­ri­ous im­pact on sum­mer busi­ness. ‘‘We have to make hay when the sun shines and sum­mer is usu­ally that time. Franz Josef and Fox (Glacier) busi­nesses will say the same thing,’’ Ms St John said. It would be the sec­ond year in a row the tourist cen­tre faced ‘‘win­ter’’ tak­ings dur­ing the peak sum­mer sea­son. This could be as lit­tle as $100 a day, due to slips on the road, she said. ‘‘It’s na­ture. It’s raw. We know they (road work­ers) are work­ing hard,’’ she said. Wanaka busi­nesses were also re­port­ing less busi­ness when the road was closed and Cal­tex Wanaka owner Matt David­son said the num­ber of tourists ar­riv­ing in camper­vans was no­tice­ably down. NZTA West Coast area man­ager Mark Pin­ner said there was no im­me­di­ate engineering so­lu­tion to re­solve the is­sues cre­ated by heavy rain fall­ing and feed­ing the wa­ter­falls which were run­ning across the slip face. ‘‘This slip is sit­ting within a chal­leng­ing ge­o­log­i­cal area and cou­pled with the forces of na­ture, it is prov­ing dif­fi­cult for us to sta­bilise and man­age. ‘‘As a re­sult, there will be con­tin­ued un­cer­tainty with ac­cess along this sec­tion of State High­way 6 when there is heavy rain and this sit­u­a­tion is ex­pected to re­main for some time yet,’’ Mr Pin­ner said. Mr Pin­ner said tech­ni­cal ex­perts were un­der­tak­ing a re­view of the site and fur­ther engineering in­ves­ti­ga­tions were be­ing com­pleted with a view to de­vel­op­ing a longterm so­lu­tion Ms St John said that while the cur­rent clo­sures were ‘‘ex­tremely detri­men­tal to busi­ness’’, what was most dis­ap­point­ing was rental car com­pa­nies and tourist op­er­a­tors were of­fer­ing ser­vices to tourists know­ing the road was closed and not in­form­ing them about it. ‘‘Th­ese poor peo­ple get stuck here and we’re run­ning around sort­ing their lives out for them,’’ she said. In one case 200 peo­ple were wait­ing out­side the cen­tre, which has a shop, cafe´ and bar and of­fers ac­com­mo­da­tion, wait­ing for road up­dates and had to be told it was closed. ‘‘They had to­tal panic on their faces.’’

Closed: Work is con­tin­u­ing to find a long term so­lu­tion to sta­b­lis­ing land at a mas­sive slip near Haast. Photo: Peter Mar­shall

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