Tour bus blocks main route into Queenstown

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A tour bus temporarily blocked a one-lane bridge on a main route into Queenstown after apparently running out of gas. 

The Milford Explorer bus laden with tourists came to a stop in the middle of the one-lane Kawarau Bridge just after 8pm tonight (Friday). 

The bridge is the sole entry point into Frankton and Queenstown from the south and suburb Kelvin Heights. 

It left Queenstown-bound traffic banked up behind it and stranded on the southern Kelvin Heights’ side – whilst equally frustrated motorists on the Frankton side could do nothing but queue up and wait. Some tourists on another bus left stranded on the Kelvin Heights side ditched their transport and carried their luggage to Frankton to catch taxis to their Queenstown accommodation. 

Americans Steve Michel and daughter Kalie, 20 – cheerily humping their suitcases to the airport in the rain – say it was their second diversion of the day. 

The pair’s flight into Queenstown had been diverted to Invercargill where they’d caught the bus. 

“This is our introduction to Queenstown – we’re walking to the airport to catch a shuttle into town. It happens,” Steve tells scene.co.nz. 

Developer Ross Wensley, stuck on the bridge behind the Milford bus with traffic hard up against his car, seemed to be taking the predicament in his stride. 

“Though I do think these cars behind me should back up – then we can go for a coffee at the Kawarau Falls.” 

Several frustrated motorists say they believe the Milford bus ran out of diesel. 

The driver, who would only say his name was Ringo, didn’t want to admit to that. 

“That’s speculation. Maybe. It’s a bus malfunction. I’ve no idea what’s gone on with it – it just stopped. 

“I guess if anything this shows we need a two-lane bridge,” Ringo says. 

The bus was returning from a day trip to Milford Sound. 

After about 15 minutes, a motorist with a four-wheel drive and a tow-rope towed the bus off the bridge, clearing it for the banked-up traffic.