As floodwaters continue to swallow up parts of Kinloch Road, calls for a permanent solution get louder.
A powerful downpour on March 25 burst the banks of the Dart River, causing the river to change course and the road to flood more easily.
Since then, it’s been touch-and-go whether the road – the only access route to New Zealand’s popular Greenstone and Caples walking tracks – is passable.
It was submerged during teeming rain on Monday last week, but was due to be reopened yesterday afternoon after being shut for 10 days.
Uncertainty around the road’s future is hurting tour operators and accommodation providers.
Toni Glover, who has owned Kinloch Lodge with her husband for nearly 19 years, says the survival of her business depends on having a road that’s open all year round, except in exceptional circumstances.
She’s suggested moving the road to a more sustainable spot, given it will always have the potential to flood.
“We need some certainty; we don’t have a business when the road is impassable and when we don’t know if people are going to turn up.”
Department of Conservation figures show almost 4000 people visited the Greenstone track last year – that’s not counting visitors during the winter months. The walking season generally runs October to May.
Owner of Info & Track and Nomad Safaris David Gatward-Ferguson’s having to keep an eye on the weather forecast before booking trips.
“We have trips scheduled to Kinloch in the next few weeks, so we’ll look at Plan B if the road’s closed.”
Queenstown’s council is assuring the public the road won’t be closed permanently, and it’s pushing ahead with previous plans to elevate the road. Work is due to start this month.
And Otago Regional Council is looking at both short- and long-term solutions to improve flood and erosion protection.