Former Westland mayor Durham Havill says he is forming a new private company to build a "class one highway" from Haast to Milford Sound via the Hollyford Valley.

The $220 million road was being promoted by Westland Properties Ltd, a council-controlled organisation owned by the Westland District Council, in partnership with an unnamed offshore investor.

Mr Havill is chairman of Westland Properties but has signalled his intention to resign at the annual meeting later this month. When he announced his resignation he said the proposal was being "stymied" by lack of support from the Westland and Southland district councils.

The new company was "committed to forging ahead" with the road unencumbered by reporting commitments to either council, he said on Friday. It would lodge resource consents with the councils when the time was right.


Mr Havill would not say who else was involved in the new company, but said some of them did not live on the West Coast. Westland Properties chief executive Bruce Smith has already resigned from the organisation but Mr Havill would not say whether he was involved in the new company.

The road route would be the same as already proposed, Mr Havill said. It would be between 108km and 138km long, of which almost 80km was within the Southland district, and follow an unformed paper road outside the boundaries of the Fiordland National Park.

The road would be a major tourist route, cutting 335km and four to five hours of travelling time from the journey between Haast and Milford Sound, he said.

"It will do wonders for Te Anau, Milford Sound and the West Coast."

Mr Havill dismissed predictions the road could cost as much as $1 billion to build, saying he believed the cost would be $205 million, which had been increased to $220 million to allow for contingencies.

The new company planned to raise the money for the road itself and would not require an off-shore investor.

Neither would it require Government money.

"It will be a toll road. That's how it will be paid for."


In April, Southland District councillors decided they did not have enough information to support for the highway. They were sceptical of the construction estimate and whether tolls would raise enough for construction and maintenance. They were also concerned liability for the road might fall back on the council and therefore burden ratepayers.

A new council and a new mayor have been elected since then.

Incoming mayor Gary Tong has already declared his support for the road in principle.