Date: 01 March 2019
DOC says the Fox Glacier access road has been destroyed by a major landslide that continues to cause issues after previously closing the road during November and December 2018.
The main highway remains open, the landslide affects just the access road to the glacier, preventing foot and vehicle access. Air access to the glacier is not affected.
The landslide is the largest active in New Zealand at present and is aggravated by heavy rain events. There is no way to prevent the landslide causing damage in the valley.
The section of road that has been damaged is approximately 300m long. Approximately 150m of road has been completely washed away and a further 150m has been substantially damaged.
DOC South Westland Operations Manager Wayne Costello says a decision about how to manage the access road will be made in the coming weeks.
“Because of the active nature of the slip, the access road is in a precarious position at present – any repairs we do could be destroyed in the next heavy rain event.
“The road access to the glacier was reinstated just before Christmas at a cost of just under $430,000. It’s likely that a similar investment would be required to reinstate access at this point with no guarantee the work wouldn’t be washed away in the next storm.
“The dynamic nature of the valleys and volatility of the landslide may well be unmanageable at this time. We may have to wait until conditions in the valley settle, which could be several years.”
Other popular visitor sites in Fox Glacier include Lake Matheson Walk and Gillespies Beach. South Westland has is also home to the Franz Josef Glacier, half an hour to the north of Fox Glacier.
DOC will continue to look at other options for access in the Fox Glacier area.
Decisions about the access road are made in consultation with the New Zealand Transport Agency and roading and geotechnical engineers.
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