Harbour upgrade opening delayed

ALANA DIXON
Last updated 14:55 28/11/2012
Milford Sound harbour
BARRY HARCOURT/Fairfax NZ

POSTPONED: The upgrade will make Milford Sound's main harbour safer for skippers and their passengers as there is now more room to manoeuvre.

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The $6 million upgrade of Milford Sound's main harbour is complete, but will not be formally opened until next year.

Milford Development Authority operations manager Andrew Welsh said construction at the harbour, at Fresh Water Basin, finished late last week after a long process.

"It's a big weight off our shoulders, especially given we started here in March. It seems like a lifetime ago for us - that was last summer, so it's been a long haul, let me put it like that," he said.

Atrocious spring weather, a crane accident and difficulties removing concrete piles from the seabed all presented delays, shifting the finish of construction from August to this month.

The upgrade would make it safer for skippers and their passengers as there was now more room to manoeuvre around the harbour.

The redevelopment addressed operational and safety issues around limitations for vessel turning and manoeuvring because of the confined nature of the harbour, and introduced a 30-metre exclusion zone, because of the potential hazards presented by possible rock fall and tree slides from the Bowen cliff face on the northern side of the harbour, he said.

The new breakwater was now open to the public and development authority staff would get to work on the landscaping, which was expected to be completed in time for the official opening, he said.

Mr Welsh said the development authority wanted everything to be in place for the opening, which was why it had been shifted from this month to March next year. "We really want to get the whole area, especially the landscaping, done before the opening, and high summer weather's a lot more predictable."

Milford Sound Development Authority board chairman Jeff Grant said that the construction programme had been timed to cause minimal disruption to visitors and operators at Milford Sound.

It was the most significant investment by the authority since the original tourism development between 1989 and 1991.

"The upgrade ensures Milford Sound maintains its reputation as New Zealand's leading tourist attraction," he said.

The project was funded by the development authority board.

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- The Southland Times

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