West Coast developers want to build a road through the Hollyford Valley to link the coast with Fiordland.
The road would cut travel time by more than four hours, and locals hope it would benefit tourism. The inland road would go from Haast Pass along the Hollyford Valley, past Lake Wilmont and Lake Alabaster and join to the road to Milford Sound.
The Hollyford Valley is clean and green – just helicopters and trampers get to see it. Now the road through the wilderness could open it up for all to marvel.
The Haast-Hollyford Rd has always existed on a map, but never been built. It was tried in 1936.
“You are going through some of the most magnificent country in the world up here and we think it will for tourism operators sit pretty nicely,” says Westland District Property Ltd chairman Durham Havill.
The highway would complete the South Island Loop and the route would be a popular attraction.
The toll road will travel down through the Hollyford Valley where it is beautiful and pristine, out to Milford Rd. It would cut the travelling time between Haast and Milford Sound by four hours but it would open up an area rarely seen by tourists let alone by locals.
Mr Havill has been trying to drum up support from local councils.
“Our council sees it as positive but we haven't made any decisions on whether we support it or not,” says Southland district mayor Frana Cardno.
Forest and Bird want it to remain a hidden part of New Zealand.
“Just because something exists we should all go to it – on that sort of logic we should be putting a gondola on the top of Mount Cook because a lot of people can't go to Mount Cook,” says Kevin Hackwell of Forest and Bird. “There are some places you leave alone.”
The road would cost more than $200 million and would be privately funded with a toll of $20 a person to cover the cost.
“I believe in three years you would have a state highway,” says Mr Havill.
First they need resource consent. If that’s approved the road could finally become a reality 130 years after it was first conceived.