Road to remain closed

Last updated 05:00 31/01/2014
tekapo canal
ROAD CLOSED: Genesis Energy is considering whether to reopen the road between lakes Pukaki and Tekapo once canal repair work is completed.

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The Tekapo Canal Rd between Lake Tekapo and Lake Pukaki is to remain closed.

It was shut in January 2013 when Genesis began fixing the leaking canals and will remain closed after an independent traffic review and consultation.

Genesis said yesterday it would prevent vehicles from travelling between the lakes as an alternative to State Highway 8 following the review.

Chief operations manager Mike Fuge said the Tekapo Canal Rd, privately owned by Genesis, was not built for high speed through traffic.

"There have been many near-miss safety incidents on the Tekapo Canal Rd reported over the last few years as a result of the combination of high speed vehicles and recreational users such as anglers and cyclists in the same location. We are not prepared to wait for an incident or tragedy to occur before acting."

Mackenzie Mayor Claire Barlow had previously called for the road to reopen after canal repair work was completed, stating it was an important road for tourism, cyclists, fishers, and other visitors throughout the summer.

Yesterday, she said there would be positive spinoffs as a result of changes to the thoroughfare.

"With the Alps to Ocean cycle trail becoming a very successful attraction in the Mackenzie and Waitaki districts, this ‘change of use' to the canal road provides a safe, sealed link into the cycle trail from Lake Tekapo to Lake Pukaki.

"Genesis have considered the impact that this closure will have on the local community and their proposal aims to provide access to both fishermen, cyclists and pedestrians for recreational purposes ...

"I feel quite positive that this change of use will provide a very unique trail that visitors can still enjoy while cycling or walking and will add value to the Alps to Ocean cycle trail as a quality tourism product."

Former Tekapo Community Board chairman and Mackenzie district councillor Murray Cox told The Herald in June the board had been urging Genesis to reopen the road after the canal work.

He said it was a huge recreational area and that the board would be trying to keep it open.

But yesterday, Mr Cox said the decision was the best outcome.

"When you look at the traffic that has been using the road, then Genesis are justified in cutting down the traffic. That will make it safer for recreational users; it was a good compromise."


The decision to keep the scenic Tekapo Canal Rd closed has drawn a mixed response from the angling fraternity.

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Falconers Field and Stream Sports owner Stuart Falconer said he would like to see the road remain open.

"I understand that it is a private road but police do patrol it," he said.

"What they would be better off doing is creating parking areas so the public can move in by foot. I would like to see them create parking areas where anglers can park safely; that would be a way of maximising the recreational use of the area and not minimising it.

Thai Ong, of Hunting & Fishing New Zealand, said closing the road would not solve any problems.

"They haven't given any concrete reason; they will put a toll on the road, user charges will come."

Fish & Game officer Mark Webb said he would like to see 100 per cent access but understood Genesis had some genuine concerns.

"They have undertaken special monitoring and it is not a good read. We would suggest that 90 per cent of angling is done in the sections that will stay open; the upper section and lower section of the canals are the most popular areas."

- The Timaru Herald


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