Access track to Kiwi 'spiritual home' reopens
The Sutherland Falls on the Milford Track is once again open for business.
The 580m waterfall is the highlight for trampers on the world famous Great Walk.
The side track to New Zealand's highest waterfall had been closed since October last year after a major rock fall.
Conservation Minister Dr Nick Smith officially opened the new $390,000 track while taking part in the Milford Track 125th anniversary walk.
Present at the opening were iwi representatives, relatives of early Fiordland pioneers and Department of Conservation staff.
The falls were a major drawcard for visitors on the track, Dr Smith said.
"This 1.4 kilometres of new track through some of the most spectacular and rugged terrain in New Zealand opens up access to the awe-inspiring Sutherland Falls." The falls were also the "spiritual home of who we are as Kiwis", he said.
"The Muslims have Mecca, the Australians have Uluru [Ayers Rock] and New Zealanders have the Milford Track and Sutherland Falls."
DOC Fiordland ranger Ken Bradley said the closure of the Sutherland Falls track had been disappointing for many who walked the Track in the past year.
Some trampers had canceled their bookings because of the closure of the Sutherland Falls track, he said.
DOC track staff had done an exceptional job in tough conditions to again make the falls accessible for the start of the tramping season.
He paid particular credit to veteran "track-doctors" Joan and Phil Fleurty.
"Joan and Phil are responsible for 80 per cent of the work on the new Sutherland Falls track," he said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
Check out what's on in your community or post an upcoming event.
Subscribe to a digital replica of The Southland Times.
Southland Times subscriber news and information.
Click here for information about advertising with The Southland Times.