Fresh snow slows work in Milford
Tourists were flown out of Milford Sound by helicopter yesterday after being stranded by avalanches this week.
The Milford and Hollyford roads have been blocked by avalanches and a major landslide since a severe storm swept through the south on Tuesday.
Snow is predicted to fall to low levels during the weekend, and is expected to cause further problems for the cleanup.
Milford Sound Lodge general manager Christine Wallace said seven tourists staying at the lodge were flown out of Milford Sound by a helicopter yesterday.
The guests were flown by helicopter to Knobs Flat and driven to Queenstown to make international flights, she said.
There were still eight tourists at the lodge as well as staff.
Mrs Wallace said the severe weather was what made Milford so "epic".
Staff had entertained the remaining tourists with quiz nights and other entertainment, and resources were being shared, she said.
Gunn's Camp co-manager Debbie Fletcher said supplies may need to be flown by helicopter to the camp if the Hollyford road remained closed.
"If the road remains closed for an extended period, there's usually a helicopter or two in the area that we can ask to drop in some supplies," she said.
Mrs Fletcher, her husband Mark, and a Wellington couple who were scheduled to leave on Thursday were stranded at the camp.
"We'll look after them in true Gunn's Camp style with no charge for their extra nights. That's just how it is here.
"With no visitors pulling up in front of the shop, we will get a lot more done than usual. Maybe another cabin will get painted?"
NZ Transport Agency Southland area manager Peter Robinson said the cleanup crew worked through an extra 28 centimetres of fresh snow on the road yesterday, "tampering" with progress.
If snow continued to fall the avalanche risk would increase and there would be more snow to clear, he said.
It was hoped the Milford road would be cleared this weekend. However, it was still unknown when the Hollyford road would reopen.
The slip material on the Hollyford road was "liquid" and could not be cleared until it dried, Mr Robinson said.
MetService meteorologist John Law said another road snow warning was issued for the Milford road yesterday.
Another dumping of snow up to 10cm was expected last night but snow was expected to ease by early next week, Mr Law said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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