Giant landslide wipes out Fox Glacier access road, again

Hundreds of thousands of dollars has been washed down the drain at one of New Zealand's top tourist attractions.

One of the largest active landslides in the country has wiped out the access road to Fox Glacier on the West Coast.

It's the second time this has happened in a matter of months - and the mayor says discussions about who will foot the bill could go on for years.

The slow-moving slip has so far destroyed a 300-metre stretch of very important road, covering it with 50-million cubic metres of massive rocks and boulders.

"There are boulders in there the size of a houses sitting on bed of sand, quietly moving down," Westland Mayor Bruce Smith says. "There's not a machine made that can move them."

It's a devastating blow to the small township that relies on tourists, which is now only accessible by air.

It's one that's all too familiar. This is the second time in just three months the access road has been shut.

It was repaired at Christmas at a cost of just under half a million dollars, and it will cost a similar amount to reopen it.

It's a growing repair bill that the Department of Conservation (DoC) says has "no guarantee the work wouldn't be washed away in the next storm". The council is now working with DoC to find an alternative.

"I don't think the present strategy will be used again. We're going to have to come up with something new," Mr Smith says. "It's not likely to open in its present form."

The road is not expected be open for several weeks.



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