Date: 05 December 2018
Foot and vehicle access to the valley floor has not been possible since heavy rain in early November triggered a massive landslide that blocked the river and caused extensive damage to the access causeway.
Machinery is currently being put on site ready to start work.
Wayne Costello, South Westland Operations Managers says it’s anticipated that work will begin once a current heavy rain event passes and river levels drop sufficiently to allow safe access.
“The plan is to dig a new channel for the river and restore single lane access across the causeway. This will allow full public vehicle access to the carpark and walking track. There is also work to do to repair the walking track which was also damaged by the November heavy rain event.
“The time to restore access will be very much dependent on the weather as it is neither safe nor practical to work during or immediately following heavy rain.
“If all goes well, it’s possible that access will be restored by Christmas, however, due to the risks and scale of the landslide along with the uncertainty of West Coast weather events, further storm events are likely to affect progress. No matter what level of investment we make there is no way to prevent further damage.
“If another large landslide debris flow occurs, it may again take out the accessway into the Fox Valley. If this happens DOC and the New Zealand Transport Agency will have to reassess whether trying to maintain vehicle and foot access is feasible in the short term.
“Until the landslide settles down, access into the Fox Valley is likely to remain a huge challenge. We will all have to be patient while this settling down process takes place and also consider long term what the best opportunities are for exploring Westland Tai Poutini National Park from Fox Glacier.”
Fox Glacier can still be accessed by air, and several tracks in the area afford good views of the glacier. Lake Matheson is a very popular and highly regarded attraction close to Fox Glacier and foot and vehicle access is still possible at the Franz Josef Glacier which is located half an hour to the north.
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