Golden Bay link reopens

The re-opening of the road to Totaranui had special significance for the Wilson family of Riwaka because their ancestors helped build the original road that was completed by 1906.

Darryl Wilson's great-grandfather, Fred Hadfield, helped build the first road access to the family's farmland at Awaroa. Darryl drove the newly revamped road on Saturday with his daughter Amy and son Michael and said "It's in better shape than ever".

Fulton Hogan workers have spent more than 4000 hours of labour and moved nearly 100,000 cubic metres of soil to get the road to a safe standard.

The winding gravel road is still only one lane in some parts.

"It would have been a tough job with pick axe and wheel barrow in the Hadfields' day but they had a bit more time back then," Darryl said.

The New Zealand Transport Agency funded the final cost of the project totalling just under $700,000, well below the $1.2 million that it was originally expected to cost.

About 100 people attended the opening of the only road access to Golden Bay's popular camping ground last Friday.

Department of Conservation Golden Bay area manager John Mason said the road closure into the camping spot had affected businesses in Golden Bay with a decrease in tourist numbers passing through.

"It has affected a lot of businesses in the area, especially the supermarket in Takaka," he said.

Totaranui office manager Pam Rose-Mytton said the obvious reason for the decline in tourists was because the only access into Totaranui since December 17 had been by boat.

"It was devastating because it happened right before Christmas. I know it was a shock for Christchurch people and some of them found it really hard to deal with," she said.

Tasman district mayor Richard Kempthorne said it was very important to get the road fixed because the Abel

Tasman is one of New Zealand's top five tourist attractions.

"It is a really big piece of the jigsaw for tourists to come to the area," he said.