A Haast-Hollyford toll road?

March 27th, 2014 at 9:00 am by David Farrar

The Press reports:

The controversial $230 million Haast-Hollyford toll road is gaining momentum with its international investors visiting the West Coast this week to meet community leaders.

However, plans to apply for resource consent were on hold until a dispute was resolved over claims that part of the 136 kilometre proposed route was a paper road that officials illegally removed from maps nearly 40 years ago.

Two representatives from Australian-registered investment company JCP gave a breakdown of the road’s financial projections at a meeting at West Coast Regional Council yesterday.

John Lunbeck, a San Francisco-based JCP partner, said the new route would meet rapidly growing demand for access to South Island’s wilderness.

Its total cost was expected to be “no more than $230 million” but extra funding was available.

The toll fee would start at $35 per traveller, almost double the previously suggested $20 a head, and would generate about $30m in the first year, based on predictions of 800,000 to 900,000 travellers. That toll would increase by $5 every five years for 30 years and traffic was expected to grow by 6 per cent annually.

Haast Hollyford Highway chairman Durham Havill, a former Westland mayor and the road’s strongest proponent, told the meeting that the road would have huge benefits for the West Coast and Southland.

It would double West Coast tourism, provide 1500 construction jobs over its four-year build, shave 355 kilometres and four to five hours off the trip between Haast and Milford Sound and offer a new South Island tourist loop, he said.

I’d pay $35 for that in a second. Compare that to not spending five hours in a car – very cheap.

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39 Responses to “A Haast-Hollyford toll road?”

  1. YesWeDid (1,040 comments) says:

    Your applying the single man, no kids approach to life DPF.

    For a family of 4 that is $140 and if you head back the same way that is $280.

    Is there a similar road in NZ with the same level of tolls?

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  2. wf (388 comments) says:

    I’d pay that too. I think the experience of riding through the natural forest above ground level would be splendid.

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  3. KiwiGreg (3,211 comments) says:

    @ywd assuming you are correct (per passenger not per car), it’s still voluntary. Is it just the choice between toll and non-toll roads you are opposed to?

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  4. wf (388 comments) says:

    It may seem a lot, YWD, but it’s a special experience, not one you’d do every school hols I think.

    Oh does this not include the monorail?

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  5. Harriet (4,607 comments) says:

    Fuck me – $35 per person!

    It’s the car that does the fucken damage to roads – not the 2-3 kids who may ride in it.

    And why the fuck does a SINGLE PERSON get subsidised – while a family gets PENALISED?

    This scam will not get over the line!

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  6. Rick Rowling (823 comments) says:

    Kiwigreg – I think YWD’s point is that at that cost for a family, it’s as much of a disincentive as a 5 hour drive, so they’ll still go somewhere else instead – i.e. the suggested increase in West Coast visitors may well be overstated.

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  7. Newbie (38 comments) says:

    If this goes ahead, will this affect the monorail proposal?

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  8. berend (1,671 comments) says:

    The traveller probably means car guys, calm down (else I’m with you :-) ).

    Better roads are good for this country, allows us to diversify, and allows more jobs in more places.

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  9. Harriet (4,607 comments) says:

    $35 per person and not per car…..

    …equals…….charging people to look out a car window!

    What a fucken joke!

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  10. Ashley Schaeffer (430 comments) says:

    $35 per vehicle would be a more reasonable charge.

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  11. uncle_tom (11 comments) says:

    “the new route would meet rapidly growing demand for access to South Island’s wilderness”. Am I allowed to point out the somewhat oxymoronic nature of this statement in that this would also begin to erode the “wilderness” itself? Mr Farrar, of all people, should know this – I don’t see him donning his pack and boots to walk down SH1. Of course development has a place, however, in all my travels I have noted (as I am sure many of you have) that a lot of wilderness is gone or is on the process of going and I wonder if our wilderness areas will have much greater future economic value if preserved as intact wilderness?

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  12. hj (6,602 comments) says:

    It would follow the alpine fault part of the way. Last time the Alpine Fault erupted over 300km (Greendale fault 30km) and it erupts every 300 years on average (last time 1717).

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  13. RRM (9,597 comments) says:

    At that price I’d think twice even if I had fewer kids in the back. The road down Lake Wanaka is spectacular and worth seeing. Queenstown and your arrival into it down the crown range are spectacular. Not sure I’ll be overly keen to pay $175 to miss some of the best bits of a sth island road trip.

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  14. Harriet (4,607 comments) says:

    Didn’t all kiwis pay tax or subsidies to pay to upgrade Auckland’s roads? If they did – then it’s Auckland’s turn to subsidise others in the country! :cool:

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  15. Huevon (206 comments) says:

    Boy, the Greenies and Facebookistas are going to love this…

    It doesn’t bother me much in principle, and I’m a keen outdoors man. NZ is blessed and we should share that with the world. Not everyone should have to tramp through the mud and sandflies to see a beautiful view. Modern engineering is pretty amazing – it could be possible to build this road with minimal environmental damage (after all, part of its appeal with the “wilderness experience”).

    Agree – $140 for a family of four is steep, but you would probably save almost that in petrol from having to go via Qtown

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  16. ben (2,412 comments) says:

    Looking forward to a calm, rational debate on this one…

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  17. All_on_Red (1,464 comments) says:

    Agree Huevon,
    Five hours in a car would probably be a full tank. On that basis $140 for four is competitive especially with time saved. $35 for singles is probably cheap.I like how it makes a loop too.

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  18. Fentex (899 comments) says:

    it’s still voluntary

    I don’t think anyone could oppose such a plan if a toll road were to be manufactured at no cost to the public – if it just appeared alongside everything else at no cost to those who choose not to use it the price becomes immaterial to those who choose not to pay it.

    But I’m guessing it’s only of interest to discuss because it has implications for public property – reserved land that it passes through and issues of how it is that reserved land is given over to private profit, though it doesn’t seem hard to imagine building a road today carefully with minimal damage and reasonable rents to the public purse to satisfy all parties.

    Though there must be a tension between investors desire to build cheaply and profitably and a public wish for care and minimal disruption.

    I don’t know much about what is proposed but I suspect I wouldn’t be very enthusiastic about it as I think the whole point of remote and difficult places to reach surrounded by reserves and national parks is the protection and isolation that difficulty affords them.

    On the general topic of it’s benefits I don’t much understand why someone uses numbers about temporary employment for construction projects as arguments in their favour – such transient benefits that may distort local markets and misalign expectations never seem like a good argument to throw into such things to me.

    On the whole I doubt there’s too much to worry about what is essentially just a different route from a to be in a place where there already are roads from the point of view of damage to the environment – it isn’t a wholesale laying of asphalt over the mountains and it’ll be invisible in scenic views, providing that part which uses public land recompenses the crown adequately how does it differ from any other high country lease?

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  19. Uplander (46 comments) says:

    Presumably with easier access more people would visit Milford Sound. Say half of the 900000 are additional people. This equates to 2250 per day based on 200 days. (Many days would be a lot more, many less). This would be 1000 additional cars per day (based on 2.25 people in a car) arriving at Milford Sound. You would have to allow extra for parking buildings, coffee shops, more sight seeing boats.
    Oh there is more. There is an increase budgeted of 6 percent per year. After 30 years this would equate to 5743 extra cars on average per day (based on 200 days). Time to fill in the Fiord for parking. No problem, take off the top of a mountain or two to get rock.

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  20. gravedodger (1,526 comments) says:

    I’ve a ten dollar bet a snail will stop it in its tracks.

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  21. MT_Tinman (3,033 comments) says:

    $35 per head seems reasonable to me.

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  22. campit (467 comments) says:

    This has to be an early April Fool’s joke. Is it even possible to build a 136km road to a reasonable standard for $230m? What is the terrain like through that part of the country? Will it comply with NZTA safety standards? Who will check that? Who owns the land currently? In the event of an earthquake, who will repair the road?

    So many questions unanswered. Is there any more detail than this?

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  23. Fentex (899 comments) says:

    This has to be an early April Fool’s joke. Is it even possible to build a 136km road to a reasonable standard for $230m?

    It does seem a bit optimistic doesn’t it? Less than half a million per kilometre through challenging terrain sounds unlikely – but providing public interests are protected

    This would be 1000 additional cars per day (based on 2.25 people in a car) arriving at Milford Sound.

    That is an interesting question – what is likely to happen if having made it easier for people to arrive more do – the character of Milford Sound must change, mustn’t it? Doesn’t that make the presence of the road something more than an otherwise ignorable expense for people who don’t care for it?

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  24. Fentex (899 comments) says:

    I seem to have cut myself off…

    …but providing public interests are protected, who cares if private business errs in it’s estimates? If we’re willing to let them buy into public assets to seek reward we shouldn’t worry about their risks.

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  25. RRM (9,597 comments) says:

    Doesn’t that make the presence of the road something more than an otherwise ignorable expense for people who don’t care for it?

    Doesn’t matter; you and I don’t get to say what’s an acceptable number of other people to be visiting Milford Sound.

    We might well have our opinions, but… ;-)

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  26. KH (692 comments) says:

    This road is Dumb. Not needed. Destructive. Pointless.
    Bugger up a natural wonder to go and see a natural wonder.
    Similar to finding the last surviving herd of Elephant. Shooting the lot and stuffing them for your collection. “Jolly good luck what”
    Plenty of road to drive through and see wilderness. the Haast for example.
    Leave this area, one of the last, for those who want to get away from it all.
    And all the common taters here can think about is the toll rate.

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  27. J Bloggs (167 comments) says:

    Fentex@11.08 – It’s actually $1.69million per km

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  28. Hiro Protagonist (16 comments) says:

    One other thing that nobody seems to be taking into account:

    You’ve arrived at Haast – the previous ~120km from Fox Glacier has very limited accomodation options.

    Milford sound also has quite limited accomodation options.

    You’re faced with the choice of:
    1) Paying the toll, driving ~160km to Milford sound, and an additional 120km to Te Anau if you can’t stay at Milford – that’s going to be a long day, with not much time to spend at Milford Sound.

    2) Driving 140km to Wanaka

    The limited accomodation options between Fox & Te Anau willl make it hard to meet the predicted vistor numbers.

    Also, it’s a damn fine drive between Haast & Wanaka, so it’s not exactly a choice between scenery & concrete.

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  29. dime (9,607 comments) says:

    sweet!

    who will own his bad boy? im hoping its a private thing and not govt?

    im sure there will be concessions for families & locals.

    per passenger sounds right – 20 people on a bus adds up!

    some of you are cheap bastards btw.

    Harriet – try not to stroke out like piri! how many times do you think you’ll use this road?

    if its privately funded/run and $35 is too much then when demand drops off they will drop the price and you “wah wah wah’s” can use it.

    “And why the fuck does a SINGLE PERSON get subsidised – while a family gets PENALISED?” – maybe some of you with families, currently bludging “welfare for families” can take some of that sweet cash and put it towards your trip!

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  30. Zapper (947 comments) says:

    Interesting outrage Harriet. Are you also outraged by the multitude of other ways in which single people subsidise families?

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  31. Fentex (899 comments) says:

    It’s actually $1.69million per km

    Oops, seem to have reversed the sums when calculating. I went and had a look for costs countries pay for building roads and not many seem to cost less than $5 million per kilometre in Europe and the U.S.

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  32. Fentex (899 comments) says:

    Doesn’t matter; you and I don’t get to say what’s an acceptable number of other people to be visiting Milford Sound.

    Someone gets a say about building more facilities there if demanded, especially if private land is in limited supply and required infrastructure needs to use some of the national park land surrounding Milford. I don’t know if it’s a reason to argue against new roads, but it’s probably something people having to make decisions should consider.

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  33. Uplander (46 comments) says:

    It would be interesting to know how many of the authors of the above comments have visited Milford Sound in the last year or so and how many have never been there.

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  34. mandk (849 comments) says:

    @ Uplander,
    I’m waiting for the Haast to Hollyford road to be built :-)

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  35. Uplander (46 comments) says:

    Nice one mandk :o)

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  36. bushbasher (12 comments) says:

    SH8 from Tarras to Clyde cost circa $300m to build in the 80′s, for 50km of road with easy access, in much easier terrain. Havill’s figure of $230m has been plucked out of thin air. The road will have to cross NZ’s largest unbridged river, the Cascade River, make it’s way up the Cascade River (untracked), cross into the pike and then into the Hollyford Valley. $1b might build a goat track.

    @DPF Go and walk the Hollyford track before you pass judgment on the HHH. The HHH will obliterate the Hollyford track, as the Hollyford track, for large sections, follows the surveyed road line (although debatable if it is a paper road).

    Don’t forget that the proposed HHH sits in 2 National Parks, A gazetted Wilderness area, and the Te Wai Pounamu UNESCO World Heritage Area.

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  37. Ed Snack (1,773 comments) says:

    I’m with those that think that the cost is way understated; and unlike many I have some local knowledge of the country. Just as an example, I believe that the Ngaruawahia section 12.5 km Waikato dual expressway cost $250M or thereabouts. Now if we halve that cost (no dual lane and no overbridges etc ) just for a rule of thumb, you get $10M per km. This is allowing for the terrain being much harder and materials being more expensive as well, plus environmental restrictions.

    Thus I’d reckon on something closer to $1-1.5B not $236M. And you’d have to factor in improving the existing road sections from Haast to Martins Bay (or for most of it) plus the Hollyford Valley Road up to the Milford Highway.

    This is (in tramping terms) pretty much Tiger country, excessively wet with lots of river/stream crossings, quite a lot of boggy poorly drained land; I’m not quite clear on their planned route so there might not be a large vertical component.

    I wonder if they plan to make money by selling land related to the project, but it isn’t really holiday paradise material.

    Bushbasher, snap. There may not be overpasses etc as I say above, but there would be a lot of bridges and a need to protect the road from flooding.

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  38. RF (1,318 comments) says:

    You have to laugh. I heard a simple green lady on the radio down crying the proposed toll road in Fiordland. She was dead against any development in a National Park as shock horror it will bring in accommodation etc..

    She then went on to say how she enjoyed walking the Milford Track etc staying in lovely huts etc.

    Someone should have pointed out that if the Milford Track was being proposed now she would be against it.

    Typical thicko green.

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  39. RF (1,318 comments) says:

    Must admit I have never been to Milford Sound by Road however I have just been to Doubtful Sound via launch to West arm of Manapouri and then bus over Wilmot pass to catch the boat out to the open sea,

    I was last there in 1968 when the bush had been stripped away to build structures for the power station plus roads. Now it’s grown back and you cannot really tell what’s old & new. Sure as hell a tourist would not know or care.

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