Road access returns after major collapses in Skippers and Milford

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The roads to Queenstown’s Skippers Canyon and Fiordland’s Milford Sound have reopened after recent huge slips in the area.

Queenstown Lakes District Council announced last night (Thursday) the Skippers Road had re-opened after recent realignment and benching work at Devil’s Elbow.

Devil’s Elbow was the site of a major slip which caused the road to collapse last month.

In a statement, council transport boss Denis Mander says while re-open, people need to remember it’s a back-country route, suitable only for four-wheel drive vehicles with high-ground clearance.

“It should not be attempted by inexperienced drivers or those in 2WD vehicles.

“Road users should also be aware that the road is deeply rutted and extremely slippery in places.”

Mander advises drivers to use a high level of caution, adding the road will receive maintenance once it has had an opportunity to dry out.

Meanwhile, a single lane has been opened around the huge slip that closed the sole road into Milford Sound last week.

New Zealand Transport Agency area manager Peter Robinson says the single lane has the advantage of enabling slip clearing work to continue while allowing motorists to get through to Milford Sound.

“When the Milford Road re-opens it will be under full traffic control to enable slip clearance work to continue. Motorists can expect traffic delays of up to 30 minutes and should factor this into their travel plans.

“Staff at the slip site will take their rest breaks around the peak traffic flow times to minimise disruptions to road users,” Robinson says.

Despite the access lane, the road will still be closed for the first three hours each morning, from 7am to 10am whilst delays of 30 minutes should be expected either side of the slip between 11am and 5pm.

Robinson says overnight closures are possible during the next few days and at 2pm each day they’ll review the overnight weather forecast and advise on any closures.

The avalanche hazard level is low at the moment, due to significant avalanche activity last week and the absence of any new snow, Robinson says.

The latest information on the Milford Road can be found at www.highwayinfo.govt.nz.