'It's devastating': Downpours delay Waiho Bridge rebuild, make Fox Glacier a ghost town

Heavy rain is causing more problems on the West Coast, with a washout closing State Highway 6 between Makarora and Haast.

It's also delaying work rebuilding the bridge across the Waiho River, with the New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) revealing it now won't be reopened until the weekend.

The loss of the vital road link is hurting businesses. The main street of Fox Glacier is like a ghost town.

It's been just over a fortnight since storms washed out the bridge north of the township over the Waiho River, and the bustling tourist trade has all but dried up.

'It's devastating': Downpours delay Waiho Bridge rebuild, make Fox Glacier a ghost town
Photo credit: Newshub

"Well it's been pretty devastating. I mean, business just came to a halt," said Café Neve owner Francois Goosen.

Café Neve is one of the few eateries still opening for business, ensuring staff have a job.

"It's not their fault the bridge went down, so I've kept my staff working, kept giving them their hours," said Goosen.

No one's lining up for glacier sky dives, and the town's only garage is also quiet.

"Normally the forecourt would be busy, and the workshop would be busy as well," said Fox Glacier Motors owner Clarke Johnston.

Cancelled travel plans have left most of the units at Lake Matheson Motels vacant, although some frustrated tourists have been caught out.

"Ninety-nine percent of them have been okay," said Lake Matheson Motels host Mike Reily.

"You get the odd one that they don't know that the road's closed, and they get here and can't get any further. And they get quite grumpy - they think it's our fault, you know?"

Heavy rain and the rising river have slowed progress at the bridge rebuild site, and local businesses counting down the days until it reopens.

"We just need you guys to tell people to come here and visit again," Johnston told Newshub.

It's hoped that can happen by this weekend.

Newshub.

 

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