The road to recovery in Marlborough also includes a long walk or two.
July’s weather event not only caused significant damage to the region’s roading network but also brought down multiple slips on two of New Zealand’s best loved walking and biking trails, the Queen Charlotte Track and the Link Pathway.
However, a massive effort is being made by those involved to get the popular attractions open for locals and for visitors to enjoy this summer season.
The Department of Conservation currently has teams working on the Queen Charlotte Track between the start at Meretoto/Ship Cove and Furneaux Lodge (Day 1 of the track) and also between Anakiwa and Te Mahia (Day 4 of the track).
Destination Marlborough General Manager Jacqui Lloyd said many Marlborough Sounds-based operators had been hit twice with storm damage temporarily closing tracks and the nationwide lockdown. “The ongoing lockdown in Auckland is affecting all tourism and hospitality operators and accommodation providers in the region,” she said.
“There has never been a more important time to support our local tourism and hospitality providers. There is a huge range of products, tours, accommodation and activities on offer so over these school holidays get out and support your community and explore your local backyard,” said Mrs Lloyd.
Businesses associated with the track are being asked to complete a ‘Queen Charlotte - Business Post Storm July 2021 Economic Impact Survey’ compiled by the Council.
“The information gathered will give us a clearer picture of the effect of the damage and needs of businesses, and will be used to communicate with Central Government and other agencies about the possibility of additional support,” said the Council’s Economic Development Manager, Neil Henry. The survey can be found here: https://www.surveymonkey.com/r/QCBusinessNeeds
Businesses in the tourism sector are not the only ones impacted by the July storm event.
Farmers, forestry and beekeepers in the Outer Marlborough Sounds, in addition to clearing debris and reinstating fences on their land, were grappling with the disruption to road access and the ongoing logistical challenges this presents, said the Council’s Recovery Manager Dean Heiford.
“Sheep and beef farms in the Awatere Valley have also hadlimited road access which caused difficulties getting critical supplies and grazing stock into the valley, and stock out, but they now have truck and trailer access under strict controls,” he said.
A meeting was held last Thursday, organised by the Rural Support Trust, between barge operators and the Marlborough Sounds farming community to better coordinate transport efforts and requirements for stock movements.
“The Council is continuing to support these Sounds communities with subsidised barge trips to deliver fuel, household goods, feed, and to assist with vehicle movements,” said Mr Heiford. Port Marlborough’s parking and berthing initiatives to subsidise parking in Havelock and Picton Marina have also been rolled over into September to assist Sounds residents.
Workers and volunteers on the popular Link Pathway have also been busy, firstly assessing the damage to the pathway, which was significant in places, and then coming up with a strategy to conduct repairs. CEO Rick Edmonds said because the pathway nearer Picton suffered less damage, an initial priority was getting from Anakiwa/Linkwater to Picton reopened.
“With the machinery mostly stuck in Havelock, pathway workers had to conduct repairs by hand, and work around the road recovery teams, and we were also hindered by further rain events,” he said.
“After seven weeks of hard labour, a useable path has been re-established from the Linkwater and Anakiwa area to Picton. These 28 km are now open for public use, with caution required as parts are narrow and muddy.”
The Mahakipawa Hill section of the Link Pathway was badly damaged, with whole sections of the hillside taken out by slips. Work has begun to repair several washed-out stream crossings, and it is hoped to have Havelock to Moenui usable again by summer. From Moenui to Lower Mahakipawa will be closed for some time to come, and will need to be repaired in conjunction with road repairs.
“The Link Pathway Trust is extremely grateful for the offers of help, and over 70 donations through the Link Pathway Givealittle page, totalling almost $10,000, and we welcome any further contributions to help with the repairs,” said Mr Edmonds.
Anyone who needs support as a result of the July storm should contact the Council at:
For the latest road status before you start your journey, please visit the Marlborough Emergency Management Official Public Information Map:
To stay up to date on the latest roading alerts, go to:
Those needing a Convoy Pass for Queen Charlotte Drive should go to: