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Closure could end angler's retreat

Fishing days are numbered

NATASHA THYNE
Last updated 05:00 08/02/2014
Frances Highsted with a 16-pound rainbow trout
Supplied
CATCH OF THE DAY: Frances Highsted with a 16-pound rainbow trout she caught while fishing from the Tekapo-Pukaki canal road last year.

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One keen angler's fishing days are numbered with the closure of the canal road between lakes Tekapo and Pukaki.

During the past four years Frances Highsted has had many successful fishing trips along the canal road but without her vehicle she will be unable to carry away her catches, sometimes up to a 20 pound (9kg) rainbow trout.

Genesis has announced it will not re-open the canal road after repair work on the canal is completed, as a traffic review determined it was too dangerous with high-speed through-traffic.

Mrs Highsted, of Timaru, said it is much easier and safer for someone of her age to fish along the canal as opposed to the rivers at Opihi or Rangitata.

To get to the fishing spots she drives from Tekapo to Pukaki.

If the roads were to close it would mean taking the loop road from Pukaki to Tekapo, adding an extra half-hour to the journey.

Mrs Highsted said it was a great scenic drive for tourists and she often took overseas visitors to the canal for fishing day trips. She said there were many good reasons for the canal road to remain open and with enough public pressure, hopes Genesis will change its mind.

However, Genesis had not had any direct complaints and was sticking with its plan. Public affairs manager Richard Gordon said Genesis had thought long and hard about the decision, determining safety to be the highest priority.

He said he had seen comments published in The Herald that the safety angle was just "spin" but was adamant safety was the underlying issue because it was an unpoliced private road without safety barriers.

There is a proposal to have one-lane road access from the head pond at Lake Pukaki to the salmon farm, and another 7km section will remain open from the Tekapo end.

"You can still get to sections of the canal road. There is plenty of access. It just won't be a shortcut," Mr Gordon said.

Work on the canal will not be finished until the end of March, when Genesis will also know whether the one-lane access proposal will be put in place.

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- The Timaru Herald

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