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Secretive Haast-Hollyford Highway

Written By: - Date published: 2:00 pm, December 5th, 2012 - 15 comments
Categories: overseas investment, tourism - Tags: , ,

Robert Krausz looks at the latest scheme for another sell-off of wilderness access with consultation limited to ‘inner circle’, while public input left out
 While DOC and the Government sit mysteriously on a long-delayed decision about the fate of one developer’s shortcut tunnel that would undermine the Routeburn Track, and another developer’s attempt to run a monorail bringing Queenstown tourists to their poorly-located hotel, an even older idea has reared its reworked/recycled head: the Haast-Hollyford Highway (HHH), which would provide a more direct link between the West Coast and Fiordland.
After all of the public debate about the tunnel and monorail proposals, the Haast-Hollyford Highway must appear to many as an obvious compromise solution – one that could serve to appease both environmental and economic concerns in the region.  However, upon closer inspection the HHH raises as many new questions as the old ones it might appear to answer – at least in the form in which it is being pitched.
The principal advantage of the HHH is obvious: it provides a much shorter route between the West Coast and Fiordland.  It also represents a way for travellers between these two regions to totally bypass Queenstown – a ‘screw you’ rebuttal of sorts to the tunnel and monorail schemes that would divert Queenstown tourists away from Te Anau and other Fiordland centres, on their way to ticking their Milford Sound ‘been there, done that’ boxes.

Routeburn Track

The obvious downside, which the media seems to have picked up on, is that the HHH would represent yet another subtraction from New Zealand’s wilderness estate – as the road would slice its way through some of the country’s most remote and rugged terrain, and would also effectively divide Fiordland National Park into two separate pieces.

What has been surprisingly missing from the discourse is debate about the private enterprise nature of the proposal.  As noted in the media, such as in this article in the Otago Daily Times, the HHH would be financed to the tune of around $220 million from overseas sources, which the proponent Westland District Property Ltd will not reveal at this time because of “very, very strict confidentiality agreements.”  This would make the HHH something largely unprecedented in NZ transportation: a private toll road.  The proponent is suggesting a $20/head road toll – which would presumably provide the payoff for the private partners and their overseas financiers.  Another presumably ‘sweet deal for mates’ – all in line with the new reality of business-as-usual in Aotearoa.
As with the as-yet-undecided tunnel and monorail proposals, this raises the question of whether Zealand is moving in the direction of selling its most public and protected land to private developers, for their private profit-generating schemes.
The HHH proponent has announced an upcoming trip that might include stops in Queenstown, Te Anau and Invercargill from 12-14 December.  The stated purpose of the trip is to brief as many “key stakeholders” with a “significant interest” as possible.  Of note: this will include “no public meetings”, as per the words of the proponent.
Cue the red flags and alarm bells…
Robert Krausz

15 comments on “Secretive Haast-Hollyford Highway ”

  1. Almost sounds like a conspiracy doesn’t it!

  2. Peter 2

    It’s a real cause for alarm, as this road would effectively destroy the wilderness qualities of New Zealand’s best tramping terrain, as well as opening up a large, relatively pest free area (between Gorge River and Cascade River) to pest invasion.

    I’ve tramped through most of that area so I know it well.

    But, I think we should all take a deep breath on this one before launching into any campaigns. The Haast-Hollyford road has been proposed for over 100 years. In fact, there may be a surveyed road line through the area (which crosses into the western side of Mt Aspiring National Park). Kennecott Explorations built a road down the coast and up the Pyke into the Red Hills for their asbestos and chromium surveys in the 1970s. But, as we’ve seen, these proposals come and go.

    These are the stiff factors against the road:

    1) The cost. $220 million is probably a drop in the bucket, when they have to bridge New Zealand’s largest unbridged river (the Cascade), several larger rivers (the Pyke River, Gorge River), as well as numerous side streams with massive flood flows. They simply can’t build it for $220 million, nor keep it maintained.

    2) Queenstown and Wanaka business interests. I can’t see a business case for bypassing those established destinations, especially when NZ tourist numbers continue to drop.

    3) Approval for the part of the road that isn’t legal. This will either be around the coast, or up the Pyke and down the Cascade. That will be a stiff fight.

    4) A rather large fightback from everyone who cares about that special area of New Zealand. You can expect that to have an international dimension as well.

    I also want to see what mining interests are involved. It never quite dies.

    Peter

    • vto 2.1

      Peter, ” Kennecott Explorations built a road down the coast and up the Pyke into the Red Hills for their asbestos and chromium surveys in the 1970s”

      They didn’t build a road, they simply bulldozed down the coast. Today the track there can still be seen and walked in parts. In fact many of the boulders were too huge for their huge bulldozers so they blew them up and the shards are still lying around (pounamu ones long gone).

      I understand this current proposal is inland not coastal. This route would of course take it closer to the red hills, where there be gold in them thar hills (in fact the richest mountain in the land. loaded with minerals).

      The government announced a few months ago that a geophysical survey would be done over this area. However, in their typically lying duplicitous manner that geophysical survey work was done about 12 months before that in 2011. I know – I was there and saw it and have worked in geophysical surveys myself in centuries past.

      Foreign funders? Try Earl Hagamann, ex-Texan, Scenic Circle Hotels owner and rapacious capitalist based in Chch (even had the gall to cruise with last weekend;s Santa Parade in the most gigantic open-air cadillac. God knows what for.) People known with past Hagamann dealings say don’t trust him one little bit.

      So there you go – road, plus hotels, plus corner dairy plus cheap motels, plus rubbish.

      Just a little more ranting ……… what do Ngai Tahu think of this? They have a massive stake in this area and will be key. Will they follow the environment? Or will they follow the money? Might have to ask Shane Jones given iwis various penchants for slave labour and greed and increased squid quota over environmental concerns.

      This bunch of neanderthals will realise that next year 2013 and 2014 leading up to the election will be the last time for a very long time to have a hope in hell of getting this through. This is a hard right wing government hell bent on doing everything they can p;ossibly think of and damn the consequences. These people will know this. That is why it is being pushed now. And it is absolutely being pushed hard and fast. Don’t dawdle on stopping it.

      steam is choofing from me nostrils – best go calm down for a bit

      • Peter 2.1.1

        Yeah sorry, I’ve walked the roadline as well down the coast, I should have stated “bulldozed”. Still, it was quite handy for getting around Sandrock Bluff.

        Agree about all the rest, and yeah, if your reaction and my reaction are anything to go by, you can expect some seriously fired up people on this. And money to oppose it as well.

        Peter

  3. vto 3

    These fools are fucking dreaming.

    More more more faster faster faster money money money greed greed greed

    Some dumbarse points;

    1. The road will no way cost $220 million. Add another zero. This si the toughest and roughest country in the land for building roads. That is why the Haast Paringa link was only completed mid 1960s. river, swamp, bluff, swamp, swamp, river, swamp, river, mountain, bluff, swamp.

    2. Doing this will make no difference to the numbers of tourists or their spend. It will only divert it in different directions. There is absolutely no increased income benefit, no additional wealth brought into NZ. Nothing extra. Nada. None. It is a zero-sum situation.

    3. The environmental destruction will be on a scale to swamp anything done in NZ in recent decades. In fact since even before Manapouri.

    4. The numbers of tourists who will drive it will be low. There are hardly any touros on the road down there now anyway ffs. And not all of them will want to go in that direction.

    What is this obsession with doing the tourist thing faster and faster and faster and faster? Neanderthals. Bring your bulldozers to shove their bulldozers back.

    • lprent 3.1

      I tramped around there is the days of yore. Nice country. But I can’t see what the attraction would be for tourists. Apart from the damn sandflies of course

      • vto 3.1.1

        the attraction is singular.

        saves 300 kilometres odd of driving if doing a south island west coast queenstown milford loop.

        that’s it.

        nothing more.

  4. thomas 4

    I keep having a bad dream that beautiful Aotearoa is being whored off by a bunch of rich and filthy pimps. The lower end of Te Wai Pounamu is taking it bad at the moment, what with the Routeburn Tunnel, the Monorail madness, the Cascade Gondola trying to be revived and now the Haast-Hollyford Highway coming back from the dead. I thought that the Haast-Hollyford Highway was buried and left to rest in peace in 2010 but it seems that necrophilic fantasies are enticing the afore mentioned pimps to do the unthinkable.

  5. Draco T Bastard 5

    The stated purpose of the trip is to brief as many “key stakeholders” with a “significant interest” as possible. Of note: this will include “no public meetings”, as per the words of the proponent.

    Yep, the term stakeholders precludes the people who live there. I learned that when Cullen had such meetings in a location that business was thinking of building a factory of some form in – stakeholders only, the locals weren’t invited.

  6. millsy 6

    Monorails and fancy toll roads have no place in our National Parks.

    They are first and foremost, for the recreation and enjoyment of all NEW ZEALANDERS, not wealthy tourists (which I belive that the the government wants to use our national parks for — hence the closure of huts, etc).

    Up here, a helicopter company wants to fly trampers (wealthy overseas ones), into Egmont National Park.

    We dont seem to appreciate our parks, we either commercialise them, or try and hand them over to iwi.

    • David C 6.1

      Why would you be against choppers taking people into Nat Parks?
      Freakishly odd and totally disconected with reality.

      • millsy 6.1.1

        Because its about making access easily accesable for paying clientele, turning our national parks into commodities.

      • One Tāne Huna 6.1.2

        Why? Because now I’ve walked into the middle of all that tranquillity I don’t want to have to listen to bloody helicopters! Kind of ruins the whole point of being there…

        Duh!

      • Richard 6.1.3

        I’m sure you will find it weird, but there are quite a few of us who consider the “natural quiet” to be one of the natural resources of a National Park. Try spending a few days (or a few hours for that matter) away from the sound of the combustion engine. You just might find it enjoyable rather than freakish.

  7. Benjamin B. 7

    Hasn’t a certain Mr Brownlee got some pecuniary interest in mining down there?

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